Employers warn of skills vs education 'mismatch'

We need a jobs and skills-first approach towards education and training, says City and Guilds Group

Kate Parker

City and Guilds: Employers warn of mismatch between skills demand and education

More than a quarter of employers believe there is a mismatch between the skills they need and the skills people gain through education, new research warns.

The City and Guilds’ Skills Index report, published today, also reveals that 56 per cent of organisations face some kind of barrier to meeting their skills and talent needs when recruiting. 

It calls for individuals, education organisations, businesses and government to adopt a more jobs and skills-first focused mentality when it comes to education and training, to better match skills supply with demand, and drive a stronger, faster economic recovery after the pandemic.


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More than half of employers surveyed (53 per cent) said they will need industry or job-specific skills in the next three years – however, just a quarter (24 per cent) of working-age adults are confident they have technical skills related to their role. 

Around a fifth (22 per cent) of employers will need advanced digital skills in the next three years, but only 9 per cent of working-age adults are confident they have these skills.

And in health care, job postings increased by a fifth (22 per cent) from April 2020 to April 2021, with demand for nurses (up 328 per cent), physician assistants (up 275 per cent) and caregivers (up 246 per cent) seeing the greatest growth.

Health and social care skills dominated the overall list of top 10 technical skills in the research’s index, with the most in-demand skills including: nursing, mental health support, personal care (ability to support with personal and private hygiene and toileting), learning disabilities support and knowledge about using personal protective equipment.

Education 'not providing the skills employers need'

Kirstie Donnelly, chief executive of City and Guilds Group, said: “Covid-19 has radically disrupted the labour market displacing almost a million people from their jobs, yet, paradoxically, employers are telling us that skills gaps remain a chronic issue for them. 

“Meanwhile, with a majority of working-age adults not confident they have the skills they need for the near future, and a third not having taken part in any workplace training for at least five years, it’s clear that employers and employees may both struggle to keep pace with the rapid changes in skills needs being driven by factors such as AI and the move to net zero [emissions].

“Solving this skills mismatch requires a shift in mindset from the individuals themselves as well as employers and the UK government. It is no longer possible to leave full-time education at 18 or 21 and never reskill again. We will require people and businesses to upskill and reskill throughout their working lives.”

The skills mismatch: City and Guilds Group’s recommendations 

  • Five-decade careers mean we need a more radical approach to lifelong learning – incorporating more bite-sized learning and a government campaign to convince people of the benefits of training throughout their lives
  • Employers, individuals and government all need to play a part in funding lifelong education in the future.
  • Better use of data to enable government, employers and individuals to plan for future skills needs, and a commonly understood language of skills to be introduced.
  • Making the skills system more accessible to smaller business.

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateParkerTes

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