CBI/Pearson Education and skills annual report

Education and skills is consistently at the top of the priorities list of the 190,000 business the CBI represents. The reason for this is clear – education is the number one driver of productivity, business, and economic prosperity. But more than this, a world-class education system is essential for social justice and a fairer society. A society in which prosperity is shared by all.

Over the past year, there has been uncertainty about the direction of the UK as we leave the European Union, with a question mark over much of our future relationship with Europe, our trading relations with the world, and the shape an independent UK migration system will take. Alongside this, and just as important, the pace of technology, automation, robotics and rapid global communication is revolutionising the workplace: changing the way people work, use their skills, create ideas, and interact with one another. Indeed, many of the world leading companies and products today didn’t even exist 5 or 10 years ago.

This year, the CBI’s annual education and skills survey represents over 28,000 business of all sizes, regions, and sectors, providing a unique insight into employer’s perception of our education system. The results this year provide reason for optimism, but also highlights some significant challenges. Employers expect to recruit more people over the coming years but worry there aren’t enough skilled people to fill the vacancies. Four in five businesses plan to maintain or increase their spending on training, but there has been a sharp drop in apprenticeship programmes because of the Apprenticeship Levy. Worryingly, the number of businesses engaged with schools or colleges is down by almost 10% - something we must reverse if the education system is to prepare young people for the modern world and work.

How we react to these findings is important. Politicians, policy makers, the education sector, and business all having their role to play. With driving economic prosperity and social justice as guiding principles, the CBI has four priorities it will work on over the next few years:

  • Ensure the education system prepares young people for the modern world and work;
  • Harness the power of business to improve the education and skills system;
  • Create the rights conditions for lifelong learning; and,
  • Champion our world-class education institutions, including schools, colleges,  and universities.