Education and Business – Bridging the Gap for Future Economic Growth

According to the recently published Education and Skills Survey from CBI and Pearson Education, entitled “Inspiring Growth” it is often businesses themselves who have to make up skills gaps when they can’t find skilled staff, diverting valuable resource from growth creating activities. 

03/08/2015, latest thinking

The survey found that in all parts of the UK 40% or more of businesses provide remedial training in basic skills for at least some adult employees and more than 1 in 5 provide similar support for graduates.

The forward to this report by Rob Bristow, president of Pearson, was particularly relevant. He said:

“By better aligning the aspirations of learners and employers we can live in a country where more and more people have the chance to be the best person they can be”

This is what we should be aspiring to. It’s not simply about passing exams and league tables. It’s about creating an education system and policies which support our people, young and old, to develop their full potential. By engaging people in this way we can make a significant positive difference to the communities we live in and to the economy. There is much rhetoric at the moment about universities engaging with local communities and local business, and businesses engaging with schools to encourage apprenticeships and work based learning, and businesses getting involved in shaping of primary through to higher education. Yet, despite this talk of collaboration, we have a long way to go to mend the disconnect between the skills our education system is producing and those required by businesses to succeed. We still have a situation where over half of employers are experiencing a shortage of available staff with the right skills particularly in science, technology and maths. Highly skilled staff will help the UK remain competitive in global markets, particularly in sectors which underpin economic growth such as manufacturing and science based sectors.

Time and time again our advisors report that business clients are struggling to find “work ready” employees with the right skills at any level. It is critical that we engage business in developing an education system fit to underpin economic growth. Not only do we need to be producing school leavers and graduates with the right technical skills we need to see an emphasis on basic skills such as literacy and numeracy, communication skills and a good work ethic.  Employability services, like those delivered by Exemplas, not only support universities to increase the employment success of their graduates but they also support business by providing the much needed focus on getting graduates ready for the world of work and business.

However more needs to be done. Collaboration between education and business needs to be embedded for the long term and targets and policies at all levels of education and business need to be strategically designed to complement and underpin each other. That way we will start to build the foundations which will provide the skills our businesses need to succeed, a strong economy and the strong communities which support individuals to participate and succeed.