25 April 2017

A report published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) warns that the UK risks becoming a low-value, low-skills economy after Brexit.

From "Inadequate" to "Outstanding": Making the UK’s Skills System World Class shows that the country is failing on a number of key measures.

Two decades of under-investment and failed skills policies have left the country lagging well behind its competitors in Europe and most of the 35-member Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with regard to literacy and numeracy, learning and development and digital skills.

Based on its analysis, the CIPD warns that the UK is sleepwalking into a low-value, low-skills economy which leaves it ill prepared for its post-Brexit future, particularly if companies face restrictions on access to talent from abroad.

Drawing on a wide range of international evidence, the CIPD finds that, while the UK compares well on the provision of higher-level qualifications, its performance on most other indicators of qualifications or skills is either poor or mediocre.

For many years, the report highlights, the UK has given priority to expanding higher education rather than complementing that expansion with developing further education, strengthening adult education and creating a high-quality vocational training system.

The analysis is part of the CIPD’s formal response to the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper. Lizzie Crowley, who co-authored the report, described it as a sobering analysis of the state of skills in the UK.

Calling on the Government to raise the UK’s ambitions, she said the analysis should serve as a real wake-up call to break with the past two decades of failed skills policy.

"Now is the time for real and lasting change and a clear plan of action to address skills at a national, sector and local level," she argued.