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Posted By Apprenticeships Directory on 28/12/2017 in Apprenticeship Sector News Stories

UK facing 'skills emergency' while politicians focus on Brexit, CBI claims

UK facing 'skills emergency' while politicians focus on Brexit, CBI claims

The UK is facing a “skills emergency” and cannot let Brexit distract people from tackling the crisis, a business leader has said.

CBI director-general Caroline Fairbairn said weaknesses in supporting young people into work had existed for years, but the changing nature of jobs had made the situation “critical”.

She said improvements to technical education, better careers guidance and giving teenagers at least four instances work experience before the leave school should be priorities for Ministers in 2018.

And she warned that, though getting more clarity on Brexit and negotiating a good deal for leaving the EU were crucial, the issue could not be allowed to dominate the Government agenda at the expense of other pressing items.

Ms Fairbairn said: “The top priority must be the urgent transformation of our skills base. The clock may be ticking on Brexit but it is ticking just at fast in our schools, colleges, universities and workplaces.

“The UK is facing a skills emergency. Weaknesses in supporting young people into the labour market have existed for years, but the changing nature of jobs and skill needs have turned the situation critical.

“The CBI will be campaigning for reformed careers advice in schools and to ensure every young person gets quality guidance and at least 4 interactions with working life by the age of 16, in every nation of the UK.”

Ms Fairbairn said 2017 had been a “rollercoaster ride”, adding that uncertainty had taken its toll on industry, with some companies halting or postponing investment plans.

She noted that the recent progress with Brexit negotiations had been welcomed by the business community, but said that while the global economy had boomed, the UK economy slowed, with GDP growth dropping to 1.5% in 2017 compared with 2.3% in 2016.

She added: “While Brexit is the top political and economic issue of the day, it is only part of the picture. Many of the fundamental building blocks of our economy – skills, innovation, infrastructure – are firmly within our control. And the transformational challenges of our age, such as AI, digital and low carbon, amplify the need for urgent action.

“Ensuring domestic priorities stay high on the Government’s agenda has been a key theme of our year.”

In response, the Department for Education said that it had introduced new measures to make sure schools were offering students the chance to explore vocational careers.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Our ambitious new careers strategy, which was launched in early December, means schools and colleges will have a dedicated careers leader in place to help young people make the right choices for their future.

“Additionally, from January 2018 a new legal requirement will mean schools must give providers the chance to talk to pupils about technical qualifications and apprenticeships, an integral part of increasing awareness of these routes.”


The CBI represents around 190,000 businesses of different sizes across the country. Members of the CBI collectively employ around 7 million people or around a third of all private sector employees

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