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'The Great Skills Divide' report, sponsored by NOCN Group, published

Learning & Work Institute has released new research as part of its ‘Ambition Skills’ programme, which NOCN Group is a proud sponsor of.

Ambition Skills is a project exploring the economic and social case for the UK to have a higher skills ambition. ‘The Great Skills Divide’, published in the Financial Times yesterday (27 May 2024), is the first report in this programme and examines the UK’s qualification profile, projecting it forward to 2035 and comparing against trends with international comparators.

The report highlights how learning inequalities risk holding the UK back. It finds that cuts to skills budgets are creating a ‘skills divide’ and leaving the UK with millions of lost opportunities to improve qualifications. It estimates that by 2035, one in two adults will hold a higher education qualification, leaving the UK 10th in the OECD, down from 6th in 2022, as other countries continue to expand higher education. It also finds that the UK is on track to make little progress in intermediate skills, leaving one in three adults qualified just to GCSE or equivalent level, behind many comparator countries.

NOCN Group chief executive Graham Hasting-Evans, says:

“As the report points out, following many years of underinvestment in skills, and in some cases failed investment by governments and employers, there are skills gaps, particularly at Level 2 and 3. It has also meant that the UK’s workforce is ill prepared for a digital/AI and Net-Zero future with a polarised structure in the economy of too much investment in degree level and limited spending on operational and technical skills.

“I welcome the research’s findings and trust that a new Parliament will at last focus on ambitious investment in the skills needed to create an across-the-board, productive, sustainable and fair economy for the UK.”

Read the full report here.

Sign up to the Ambition Skills webinar on 5 June 2024 here, to explore why the UK should set a higher ambition for skills.