Time For Action: learning and skills for economic growth and social justice

The UK’s skills base has long lagged that of comparator countries and over the last decade the rate of improvement in the UK’s skills base has stalled. This is the result of cuts in public funding for adult skills, alongside falling employer investment in skills.

Our new report shows that as a result the UK is likely to fall further back in the international league tables by 2030. The UK is poised to:

  • Fall from 4th to 6th of the G7 countries for low skills;
  • Remain 5th for intermediate qualifications; and
  • Remain 4th for higher qualifications

We have set out a higher ambition for the UK which would involve making sure more people have functional literacy and numeracy and intermediate qualifications. This would boost our economy by £20 billion per year and help another 200k people into work. It would require extra investment of £1.9 billion per year and reversing the falls in the number of adults improving their skills each year seen since 2010.

“This skills problem is a social justice issue. Our most disadvantaged individuals pay the highest price for low skills but also have the most to gain from up-skilling their way out of deprivation. I am very grateful to Learning and Work Institute for their longstanding commitment to achieve social justice through education, and I am pleased to support them with the launch of their 2030 Skills Vision report.”

Robert Halfon MP, chair of the Education Select Committee

“This report sets out a compelling case for investing more in our people. The economic and social returns from modest increases in government and employer investment in education and skills for adults is clear and impressive. With a spending review imminent and employers more acutely aware of recruitment difficulties than ever, this report is very timely. I hope that the Chancellor and the CBI as well as others take heed.”

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges

“This timely report highlights how vital it is that we provide opportunities to increase skills levels and help adults retrain and upskill so we can drive up productivity and start to close local skills gaps. Councils and combined authorities play an important role in their communities, working with local and national partners, to both stimulate and meet demand for skills development, through targeted engagement and delivery of a relevant, flexible, local offer. Ensuring the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and the forthcoming Local Industrial Strategies are adequately resourced, have sufficient devolution and local commissioning, and an ability to target provision to support inclusive growth and productivity will be critical to achieving this goal.”

Cllr Sir Richard Leese, chair of the Local Government Association’s City Regions Board