UK “sleepwalking into a low value, low-skills economy post-Brexit”, CIPD warns

The UK is “sleepwalking into a low value, low-skills economy post-Brexit”, the nation’s foremost human resources organisation has warned.

The Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD) blamed government and businesses for “two decades of underinvestment” that have left Britain near the bottom of international league tables for literacy, numeracy, learning and development and computer skills.

Without more emphasis on workplace learning and development the UK’s chronic skills shortage will be made worse after Brexit, the institute warned.

The CIPD analysis, released in response to the government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, drew attention to a number of failings within the UK’s skills system.

Both England and Northern Ireland rank within the bottom four OECD nations for numeracy and literacy for people aged between 16 and 24-years-old, while the UK ranks the worst out of a league table of 19 countries for young peoples’ computer problem solving skills.

The CIPD pointed out that British employers spend less on training than other large economies, with the gap increasing since 2005. On average UK employees received €266 worth of training in 2010, compared to €511 across the EU, the analysis showed.

Since 2007 adult job-related training has plummeted in the UK the CIPD found, with Britain currently sitting forth from the bottom in the EU league table.

The CIPD called on the government to make skills training central to the industrial strategy, widen the Apprenticeship Levy so that it becomes a training levy and to increase funding for workplace training.

CIPD skills adviser and report co-author, Lizzie Crowley, said: “This is a sobering analysis of the state of skills in the UK. Our report should serve as a real wake-up call for the government to break with the past two decades of failed skills policy and set the UK on a new course that delivers the right results for individuals, organisations and the economy as a whole.

“While more efforts are being made to reform education, it’s clear that there needs to be a much greater emphasis on learning and development in the workplace.

“As we move towards Brexit, and possible restrictions on overseas talent, it’s crucial that government works in partnership with education providers and businesses to address these deep-rooted issues that continue to blight individual and business potential.”