Skills Vacuum?


According to recent reports the UK is suffering from a skills vacuum.  However, the trend is not confined to Britain it is also being felt in Europe. 

Ofsted have asked Employers to take on a greater role in rating skills based courses. This was announced after 91, 000 employers were surveyed and it was found that 1 in 5 posts were left vacant due to a lack of necessary skills. This trend is increasing rather than decreasing, last year 22% of vacancies were left empty due to missing skills compared with 16% of jobs two years ago. 

Mathew Hancock, Minister for Skills and Enterprise responded to these figures, saying, "Employers in some sectors report persistent skills shortages, which is why I have been working hard to design a skills system that is rigorous in the training it provides and responsive to the needs of employers.”

Ofsted’s response came from Ms Fitzjohn who said, "Employers in the past have often not been sufficiently included in the education and training of learners, including apprentices, and we have recognised that this needed to change.”  To solve this problem Ofsted now want to empower employers via asking for their feedback.  They want to understand what skills are missing from the workforce and make sure that these are taught to young people.  The hope is that this will also decrease the number of youth unemployed.   


Youth unemployment is a large problem experienced across Europe.  23% of under 25 year olds are counted as ‘NEETs’ (Not in Employment, Education or Training),  Ofsted argue this figure won’t improve until employers and educators communicate with each other to close a growing gap. Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education and Youth, said "In Europe the mismatch between what our education systems are delivering and the needs of employers is resulting in a serious skills shortage and damaging the aspirations of Europe's young people and, ultimately, our future prosperity." She went on to stress that policymakers, educators and industry needed to work together.  She called the current situation a “growing crisis”

Developing Young People

Despite these warnings, skills based training is not the only thing that needs attention.  Mary Bousted from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers warned that "Education should not just be about turning out effective employees, but also about developing young people to have caring relationships and to be questioning citizens." These alternative skills, life skills, are also highly valued by employers and often candidates who have greater relationship and communication skills are valued above those who do not. 

As well as the calls for these reforms there have also been calls for greater reforms and a move to depoliticise the education system. Some argue that the constant changes to curriculums every time a government changes are not benefiting young people and an all parliamentary committee that was not affected by the current government, but had all parties contributing would result in a better education system for all. 

With this in mind, can the skills gap be plugged just by educators?  Or does there need to be a more holistic view? Should all young people volunteer and carry out charity work within their school hours to create more rounded individuals better geared to the world of work? Your thoughts and comments below please...