TUC warns of 'looming skills crisis' as workforce training drops

By agency reporter
July 13, 2019

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned that the UK is facing a looming skills crisis after new analysis revealed a sharp drop in workplace training.

The TUC says that with automation and new technology changing the way many work, millions will need the chance to re-skill over the next 20 years.

The TUC analysis shows that workers are, on average, receiving 10 per cent less training a year than in 2011. For young workers (-16 per cent) and lower qualified workers (-20 per cent) the trend is even worse.

The new report builds on an earlier study which showed that workplace training has fallen significantly over the past 20 years.

The Training Trends in Britain report also reveals that:

  • Employee training courses are becoming shorter with more than a half lasting (56 per cent) less than a week, compared to around a third (34 per cent) in 1996
  • The proportion of off-the-job training has plummeted from 73 per cent in 1996 to 53 per cent in 2018
  • Union members are more likely to get training, with 37 per cent saying they accessed training in the last three months, compared to 22 per cent of non-union members

But with huge cuts to adult education and fewer courses being run for workers, the TUC says the UK is on a course for a massive skills deficit.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The world of work is going to change massively over the coming years. If employers don’t increase workplace training, Britain faces a looming skills and productivity crisis.

“Everyone must be given the training they need to keep up with changes in technology.”

The TUC is calling for:

  • A new lifelong learning account open to all adults that would incorporate fully funded entitlements to enable all adults to attain a minimum skills level and to access retraining opportunities.
  • A right to a mid-life skills/career review for workers and development of a high-quality skills/career advice service for all adults.
  • Reform of the right to request time to train so that it is changed to a new strengthened entitlement to paid time off for education and training.

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* Read Training trends in Britain here

* Trades Union Congress https://www.tuc.org.uk/

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