The adult skills gap - Blog by Dr Daria Luchinskaya
A new IER report, The adult skills gap: Is falling investment in UK adults stalling social mobility?, produced for the Social Mobility Commission and written by Daria Luchinskaya and Peter Dickinson, discusses the landscape of adult skills and participation in training in the UK. It finds evidence of ‘vicious’ and ‘virtuous’ circles of training, whereby those with low or no qualifications are much less likely to access education and training after leaving school compared to those with high qualifications. Furthermore, the report highlights that UK investment in training is low by international standards.
These findings are not new – there has been ongoing concern about Britain’s ‘low-skill low-quality’ equilibrium – where the UK economy includes a substantial proportion of low-quality jobs that may have less incentives for facilitating staff training and learning – since Finegold and Soskice published their seminal paper in the late 1980s. Thirty years later, it seems that these problems are still ongoing, as the IER has discussed in its previous research (e.g. Green, 2016; Wilson & Hogarth, 2003).
That adults in lower-quality jobs and with lower qualifications, who have more to gain from training or learning, tend to miss out on training relative to their more advantaged peers in better jobs has also been widely discussed, as highlighted in the Adult Skills Gap report. These findings chime in with recent commentary by Erzsebet Bukodi that questions some of the assumptions behind the argument that education and training alone can improve social mobility without changes in the underlying job structure – the number of managerial and professional jobs available. Policy focus on education and training without addressing the wider underlying issues also leads to problems, particularly regarding the limitations of supply-side skills policies without corresponding increases in the demand for skilled labour (e.g. Crouch et al., 2001).
This raises big questions about how the government, employers, and society more broadly can ensure better prospects for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Some of the answers could be found in collecting better official data about training, not only spend, but also quality, type and duration. But perhaps more long-term, more challenging answers lie in addressing some of the fundamental issues discussed above – the low demand for and low utilisation of skills.
IER’s recent work on job quality, led by Chris Warhurst and Sally Wright, that contributed to the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices and to the establishment of a Working Group on Measuring Good Work, can help understand some of the reasons behind disparity in the quality of jobs in the UK and what can be done to improve it. Research on skill utilisation, can help investigate why and how some employers are able to use and develop their employees’ skills more than others. A holistic, focused approach to the UK’s problem is needed to help ensure that access to training and learning is available to those who need it.
Low-skilled workers miss out on training
A new IER report produced for the Social Mobility Commission, ‘The adult skills gap: Is falling investment in UK adults stalling social mobility?’, discusses the landscape of adult skills and participation in training in the UK. It finds evidence of ‘vicious’ and ‘virtuous’ circles of training, whereby those with low or no qualifications are much less likely to access education and training after leaving school compared to those with high qualifications. The report also highlights that UK investment in training is low by international standards. This leaves big questions about how the government, employers, and society more broadly can ensure better prospects for people from disadvantaged backgrounds..
The report was launched on the 29th of January 2019. Its findings were covered by the Financial Times and the Independent, and were discussed on The Today Programme.
The report, co-authored by Dr Daria Luchinskaya and Peter Dickinson can be accessed here. For more information about the project, please see the IER project page. The Social Mobility Commission press release is available here.
Cedefop Skills projections just published
The latest set of Cedefop Pan-European Skill projections has just been published:
IER has been involved in producing these comprehensive and detailed forecasts since their inception in 2005. The latest project which runs until 2020 is now being led by our long standing partners Cambridge Econometrics.
IER leads on productivity and skills analysis
The Institute for Employment Research has produced the annual report for the West Midlands Productivity and Skills Commission. The report synthesises the Commission’s understanding of the regional productivity and skills challenges across the Five Foundations of Productivity - Place, innovation, Infrastructure, People and Ideas/Innovation (as outlined in the Industrial Strategy) - within three of the region’s priority sectors – Business, Professional and Financial Services (BPFS), Building & Construction Technologies, and Automotive.
This analysis forms the basis for a set of recommendations for each of the Foundations.
Warwick IER facilitates Regional Skills Summit
The IER facilitated the Regional Skills Summit on the 3rd July. Hosted by the Edge Foundation, the skills summit brought together the Skills Directors of the Mayoral Combined Authorities. Liverpool City Region and the Greater London Authority Skills Directors presented their recently published skills plans, and the summit concluded with a presentation by Jonathan Barr of the OECD. The Skills Summit continues IER's recent work into the sub regional skills agenda which has recently included a feasibility study of the Skills Advisory Panels (for DfE) and writing the Annual Report for the West Midland's Combined Authority's Productivity and Skills Commission. Read the report written by Peter Dickinson and Chris Warhurst here.