Radical reform needed to tackle skills crisis

New research shows that 12 million people will be unemployed or in jobs they are over-qualified for by 2024, prompting councils to call for an overhaul of the careers and skills services.

The British Chambers of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey found skills shortages are reaching critical levels, emphasising the need to ‘kickstart the economy by addressing the barriers to growth’, which includes the growing skills gap, which is ‘hindering the ability of companies to find the workers they need to develop’.

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “While there are many business bright spots across the UK, the evidence from the biggest private business survey in the country shows that growth and confidence remain subdued overall as we enter a new year.

“Labour and skills shortages are set to be the biggest potential drag anchor on business in 2018, since ultimately it is people that make businesses work. Business itself must do more – by training and investing wherever possible in people – but government must also give firms the confidence to put their livelihoods on the line and go for growth.

“This must be the year employers act rather than just complain on skills, and the year government delivers clarity, leadership and investment in people and infrastructure. Kick-starting growth, and boosting wages and prosperity for all, depends on this.”

Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the Local Government Association’s People and Places Board, said: “12 million people – the combined population of London, Greater Manchester and Staffordshire – will be without a job or in work they are over-qualified for by 2024. Without radical reform, swathes of people face a future where they have skills mismatched for jobs, risking them being in low paid, insecure work, and reliant on benefits, at a huge cost to people’s lives and the local and national economy.”

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