UK falling behind international peers in adult technical skills

The UK is falling behind international peers in terms of adult technical skills with just 18% of 25–64-year olds’ holding a vocational qualification. We are currently experiencing an incredibly tight labour market, exacerbated by labour and skills shortages. Tackling economic inactivity and ensuring we can upskill and reskill our domestic workforce is critical, especially when you consider that UK employers spend just half the European average on training their employees.

To help alleviate this issue, the government is considering whether the operation of the Apprenticeship Levy is doing enough to incentivise businesses to invest in a variety of training.

The impact of levy reform in the current labour market could be higher than ever before – helping to fill vacancies quickly by equipping people with the right skills. A more accessible route to using levy money would be a valuable tool in the government’s levelling up agenda and improve social mobility. In the five years between 2015 and 2020, the number of new apprentices fell by a whopping 237,470. Reforming the levy is something the REC has campaigned on for years, and we’ll continue to work with Ministers and officials to ensure it works effectively for everyone in the labour market.

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