Experts slam schools for lack of skilled workers

Schools should be doing more to promote skilled workers, said industry experts

Business experts have blamed the education system for a lack of skilled workers, as an industry-wide survey found 69% of manufacturers expected difficulties in filling high-skilled roles in the future.

The survey of more than 500 companies by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Pearson UK, found there was a growing demand for skilled workers. Almost 80% of businesses expected to have more roles for highly-skilled staff over the coming years.

However, more than two thirds of firms were not confident about filling the future roles.

CBI deputy director-general Josh Hardie said: “Skills are a top business priority, but over two thirds of firms don’t think they will be able to get the people they need.

The survey results suggested that businesses blamed the education system for the lack of skilled workers.

Manufacturing skills gap

'130,000 new employees needed by 2024'


More than half of companies were dissatisfied with the extent of school leavers’ work experience, organisation, communication skills and analysis.

Hardie said schools and colleges have the responsibility to increase the number of skilled workers.

‘Must go further’

“The system is slowly putting more emphasis on personal development, but this must go further,” said Hardie.

“Across the UK there are great examples of businesses supporting schools, teachers and students. To make this practice the norm – not the exception – our education systems need to encourage schools to undertake this activity.”

Pearson UK is a company that provides learning resources for youngsters. Its president Rod Bristow blamed the problem on higher education, and said more should be done to harness young peoples’ potential.

Bristow said: “This is an important reminder, at a time when some say too many people go to university, employers are ‘voting’ for greater access to higher education with their job offers.

“We need a more informed debate about the skills higher education offers, and how we help more young people benefit from higher education.”

More businesses are now working with schools to improve students’ skillsets, said Hardie. He said finding qualified workers is more important now than ever before.

‘Rests on our education and skills system’

“A successful future for the whole UK rests on our education and skills system,” said Hardie.

“Following the vote to leave the EU, the UK must carve out a new economic future and this is an area where we must take action to support our competitiveness and prosperity.”

Meanwhile, in the Food Manufacture Group recent survey of industry worries and expectation, 61% of companies said they already found it difficult to recruit staff with the appropriate skills.

Earlier this month, the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink (NSAFD) said the food and drink manufacturing industry will need 130,000 new employees by 2024.

The report suggested a skills gap in key technical and scientific areas and an aging workforce will mean the demand for new employees will continue to rise over subsequent years.


CBI/Pearson survey results – at a glance
  • 77% of businesses expect more jobs to become available
  • 68% of businesses offer mentoring and coaching opportunities
  • 73% support employees part-time education
  • 69% are not confident of filling their high-skilled roles
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