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Posted By NOCN on 26/09/2018

NOCN and L&W publish report on skills and productivity

NOCN and L&W publish report on skills and productivity

NOCN Group hopes to stimulate the debate of UK productivity with the publication of its report: Skills to Drive a Productive Society.

Researched and written in partnership with the Learning & Work Institute, the report outlines an inclusive National Skills Strategy which will help productivity to grow, improve literacy and numeracy and help to achieve greater social mobility.

Much is being said about BREXIT, but we face other major challenges; the productivity gap with other comparable nations is around 30%. The UK, unlike other countries, has not recovered since the financial crisis, it has virtually flat-lined. If the improvements, pre-crisis had continued the economy would be 25% more productive now than it actually is.

Productivity gaps exist in several sectors including retail, distribution, hospitality, information and communications (ICT), financial services, insurance, construction, mining, utilities and manufacturing. In addition, there are considerable regional differences. Low productivity regions include the East of England, East Midlands, North East, North West, South West, Yorkshire & Humber, and Wales.

Further advances in digital and AI will fundamentally change jobs in many sectors. There are predictions that up to 35% of jobs will be affected in the coming decade, and underpinning this are poor levels of literacy and numeracy. Many comparable nations are experiencing improvements in literacy and numeracy.

NOCN Group outlines how skills, linked to investment is the key to improving productivity, whilst at the same time addressing the challenges of AI and social mobility.

Whilst supporting the direction of the Government’s reform programme for Apprenticeships, T-Levels, Devolution, National Retraining Scheme, and Functional Skills NOCN Group feel more is needed. The organisation encourages focusing efforts to improve:

  • Management skills to enable identifying potential and being confident in pushing forward performance improvements and digital changes;
  • Employability and generic skills, particularly addressing literacy, numeracy, digital and cognitive skills;
  • Technical skills and knowledge, particularly to support the transition to an AI and digital-based economy.

Ensuring we are fit for purpose for 2025 with re-designed apprenticeships and technical qualifications is crucial. Graham Hasting-Evans, Group Managing Director of NOCN said, “The UK will have missed an opportunity if we end up in a situation where we produce someone at the end of 2025 with great skills that were needed for 1995. We cannot afford to get this wrong.”

In developing the way forward, we have to recognise the different needs of “New Entrants to the Workforce” and the “Upskilling imperative for the Existing Workforce”.

Many people will say the country has been investing in skills for over 30 years and there are still problems. NOCN Group believes this is because:

  • We have never had a complete and integrated Strategy for Skills Development;
  • We have not done enough to improve overall literacy and numeracy levels and
  • Crucially we have not focused enough of our management training across all businesses on productivity improvement.

The report sets out a wide range on some 23 recommendations, which addresses significant challenges, including:

  • An integrated National Skills Strategy, with underpinning principles, that embeds sector needs; translating these into local priorities and plans. This must support everyone including the self-employed, unemployed and atypical workers;
  • A national campaign to drive up awareness;
  • Speed up the Apprenticeship and Technical Education reforms ensuring they address the productivity improvement and AI demands, supported by the necessary investment;
  • Give people clear career pathways as well as the life-long learning skills to adapt and change;
  • Invest more in literacy, numeracy, cognitive, digital and employability skills to match the practical needs of employers;
  • Aim the National Retraining Scheme at upskilling to match sector and local priorities, with focused short courses;
  • Prioritise local AEB funding towards productivity improvements as well as literacy, numeracy, cognitive, digital and employability skills;
  • Improve the skills of managers to design and implement productivity and change programmes, utilising NRS funding and local AEB initiatives;
  • Review the operation of the Levy to give more short-term flexibility;
  • Re-invest any unspent Levy into skills for productivity improvement and upskilling;
  • Support the move to more online learning and assessment provision;
  • Incorporate positive action on social mobility and FREDIE; and
  • Drive the implementation and achievement of the National Skills Strategy, through a single national organisation. This needs to work closely with the main sector organisations and local accountable bodies, such as the Combined Authorities. The local accountable bodies should be tasked with progressing improvements in their locality.

Further information:

To download a free copy of the report, visit: www.nocn.org.uk/productivity-report

To speak to NOCN, call James Harkness: 0300 999 1177 or email james.harkness@nocn.org.uk

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