Businesses need skilled talent to stay competitive, but the working world is changing faster than people can develop the necessary skills. By 2024 almost 50% of jobs will require higher-level education; and two thirds of firms are already facing digital skills shortages. The gap is widening. Businesses will lose out – unable to innovate and grow – and employees will too.
That’s why we’re calling on government to ensure the current and future workforce has the right routes to access new skills - from education through to retraining - developed in conjunction with the real-world requirements of business.
Reform the Apprenticeship Levy so it works better for business and boosts uptake
Open new routes to higher-skills by developing T-Levels (A-Level alternative) and a national entitlement to level 4 qualifications
Set a target for 100% of the UK workforce to have basic digital skills by 2025, and support this upskilling through the National Retraining Scheme
79% of businesses expect to increase their number of higher-skilled roles, and 95% expect their digital skills needs to increase in the next 3-5 years. Yet 66% fear there will be a lack of sufficiently skilled people to fill these vacancies.
The widening skills gap is a problem with no quick fix. It requires a wide range of interventions – and concerted effort from business and government in unison – to turn the tide.
Opening up the right routes to new skills is key, and though T-Levels and apprenticeships are promising developments, the Levy is in need of urgent reform. There must also be dedicated action around digital skills: as firms become increasingly reliant on the shifting landscape of technology, this skill set will only grow in demand.
To prevent firms from stretching across an impossibly wide gap, policy action - generated through consultations with business - is needed now.
"As many as 9 in every 10 people currently in work will need to be retrained or reskilled over the next ten years. Achieving it will need business and government, employer and employee, state and citizen, unions and academia. Getting it right could be Britain’s most powerful competitive advantage."Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General
It is vital that businesses and government work together to develop routes to higher skills that close the gap across the board.
of firms are confident that they will be able to access the digital skills they need in the next 3-5 years
The number of businesses offering apprenticeship programmes dropped from 83% in 2017 to 70% in 2018
of employers anticipate a need to upskill employees in their current roles in the next 12 months
Automation, AI and other innovations bring opportunities, but this also means that firms and government must help lower-skilled employees to embrace the changes through retraining. If the UK’s workforce is to thrive, our people will require a multitude of upskilling initiatives.
The CBI campaigns tirelessly on behalf of our members so that business creates prosperity for all. Learn more about the work we do and the impact we are making on this issue.
National Retraining Partnership announced in 2017 Budget
CBI responds to government T-level consultation
CBI responds to Education Select Committee inquiry into fourth industrial revolution
Budget brings Apprenticeship Levy reforms and National Retraining Partnership funding
CBI gives evidence to Education Select Committee on fourth industrial revolution
CBI invited to join ministerial board on digital skills policy
Getting apprenticeships right: next steps
Five steps businesses can take to bridge the digital skills gap
Major education report draws on CBI research
Taking action to close the digital skills gap
How our education system should prepare young people for the modern world
Filling in the missing middle of England's skills system
Four steps to improving the apprenticeships system
CBI releases evidence to support the economic case for flexible learning
Employers and Lifelong Learning
The government launches online learning platform
The CBI launches its Invest for Growth campaign to increase UK R&D spend to 3%, with its Now is the Time to Innovate – Road to 3% report
Join the CBI
Our members are our mandate, and the reason we’re the most influential business organisation in the UK.
Join the voice of business, and help us campaign to open routes into higher-skills for the workforce of the future.
Have your say
Are digital skills challenges impacting your business? We know that firms are hiring to address their digital needs, but are getting nowhere because the current talent pool can’t supply the right skills.
We’re collecting case studies from members to shape our policy position. Share your story and help drive change.
Make a difference
This wide and cross-cutting campaign is jointly led by the CBI’s People & Skills and Innovation & Digital teams.
Contact Matthew Percival, Director of People and Skills, or Felicity Burch, Head of Innovation, to find out about the change UK business urgently needs and how you can support it.