Watch the webinar
- Matthew Fell, Chief UK Policy Director, CBI,
- Tera Allas CBE, Director of Research and Economics, McKinsey
- Lee Probert, Chief Executive and Principal, York College
- Neil Morrison, HR Director, Severn Trent Water
- James Harding, Co-Founder and Editor, Tortoise media (Chair)
- On COVID-19:
- There were some encouraging signs last week, including around a potential vaccine, a reduction in the R number, and the announcement of two new ‘mega labs’ to increase the UK’s testing capacity
- The government needs to be really clear on what happens after the lockdown ends on 2 December. If we are to go back to a tiering system, it’s vital we get the detail in advance so businesses can plan
- The CBI has been having good conversations with government around workplace testing – with businesses very keen for some sort of ‘test and release’ system which allows employees who test negative to go back to work
- A big theme of last week was the Chancellor’s cancellation of the Job Retention Bonus. Many businesses have already factored it in to their future planning and budgets
- On reskilling:
- Skills needs always change, but it’s the pace and extent of change which is different at the moment. Businesses need incentives and encouragement
- The Apprenticeship Levy isn’t working – and the government needs to fix that
- We need to be supporting individuals too, so they can invest in their own development
- Job creation will be vital as we build back after the pandemic.
- It’s hard to make international comparisons. The UK’s level of adult skills is middling, but are people getting lifelong training?
- Many countries focus on 18-24 year olds and then taper off. They also tend to concentrate on highly educated people
- The skills shortages in the UK are going to be made worse both by long-term trends such as automation, digitisation, but also COVID-19 in the short-medium term
- By 2030, 9/10 of the workforce will have to reskill in some way. This could be topping up their skills (upskilling) or completely reskilling
- This is roughly 30 million people in the workforce that will need to reskill or upskill. Of this figure, it’s likely that 25 million will be on the side of upskilling, and approximately 5 million may need to retrain entirely.
- At Severn Trent Water, they see three groups of people: those who are happy in their job but want to learn more, those who want to change jobs/careers, and those who are forced to change jobs
- They have five principles:
- We can all learn new skills
- We’re all capable of changing direction if we want to
- Technical competence is key
- We can all achieve regardless of academic background
- We can all make a difference to our communities
- In some areas, the adult training market doesn’t meet the requirements of business. But in professional industries – such as HR and finance – it works quite well
- Severn Trent Water invested £10m in a new academy to drive technical competence, because they see a direct correlation between skills of workforce and operational performance.
- York College talk to employers to understand what skills demands they have and develop aspects of qualifications that relate to their business
- It’s important not to presume employers are all the same, and to acknowledge that skills apply differently to different businesses at different times
- Precision is the key. Businesses need to work out exactly what their skills problem is, and then navigate the complications of the system
- For employees, if you want to pursue a particular field, you need to understand the demands of that field
- There’s a role for providers in stimulating interest in retraining. In York, for example, there’s a big drive to retrofit homes to make them greener. So, York College are helping to encourage sole traders to get those skills so they can become part of the green housing revolution.