Helping the UK Thrive
Major skills reforms must deliver quality training, not just quantity
Three quarters (75%) of businesses expect to increase the number of high-skilled roles over the coming years, but 61% fear that there will be a lack of sufficiently skilled people to fill them, according to the 2017 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey, 'Helping the UK Thrive'.
The survey of 344 companies highlighted that 62% see strong competition for candidates with appropriate qualifications as the most widespread cause of skills shortages, followed by a lack of candidates with appropriate qualifications (55%).
Asked about the impact of the introduction of the £2 billion apprenticeship levy, 58% of firms plan to increase apprentice programmes – but it is not clear how much of this is genuinely new provision, with 63% of respondents planning to reconfigure existing training to comply with the levy.
Careers advice and guidance given to young people was judged as overwhelmingly poor, with 84% of companies surveyed saying the quality and consistency of careers advice is inadequate.  Businesses are actively engaging with schools to help support children and young people, with 81% of those surveyed having links to schools.
Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:
“Skills have to be the beating heart of the UK’s Industrial Strategy - it’s the best growth strategy a country can have. More high-skilled opportunities are good news for our future – and a sign we can make progress on productivity - but this is tempered by the growing urgency around skills shortages.
“Too often political meddling and piecemeal reform have been the overriding feature of our skills system, and that’s why business has welcomed the Education Secretary’s recognition of the role they need to play. This partnership approach is vital for success of skills reforms.
“Growing our skills base needs a greater focus on what skills provision actually achieves for a person or business, instead of just the existence of training or apprenticeships being judged a success. At the beginning of the major technical education reforms, and with the survey showing challenges for the apprenticeship levy system, that shift in mindset by the Government is vital to growth.
“Across the country there are brilliant schools and colleges helping young people succeed, both academically and in terms of the attitudes and behaviours they need to succeed in later life. Business can and must do more to ensure that someone’s postcode or background does not define their life chances.”
Rod Bristow, Pearson’s President, UK and Core Markets, said:
"This year's report shows that now, more than ever, the UK needs a coherent education system that delivers high quality and flexible options for everyone to keep learning; that makes the most of our talent and bridges the gap from education into employment more efficiently.
"We welcome the Education Secretary's aim to create a technical education revolution, and welcome plans to inject much needed funding into the further education sector.  We are in complete agreement about the need for collaboration among all stakeholders. We stand ready and committed. Let's not forget, we need career focused as well as job focused routes.”
  1. New apprenticeships are being created but many are reconfigured, existing training programmes
Asked about the impact of the apprenticeship levy system in the months before it went live, many firms indicated they will use the levy to upskill their current workforce and replace other existing training, with 63% planning to reconfigure existing training into apprenticeships and 27% expecting to cut back on non-apprenticeship training activity to meet levy costs.
Survey responses show:
  • Businesses are adapting their training approach to meet apprenticeship levy cost recovery rules, with two-thirds (63%) planning to reconfigure their existing training into apprenticeships
  • Over half (58%) of respondents plan to create new apprenticeship programmes and close to half (46%) expect to increase apprenticeship places
  • Some of this provision will be existing training reconfigured or in place of other schemes being cut, as around a quarter of companies expect to cut back on non-apprentice training (27%) or curb their graduate intake (23%)
  • A third of businesses (33%) cited lack of clear guidance as the biggest challenge they face in the first year of the levy’s operation, while nearly as many (29%) highlight the inflexibility of the funding rules hampering their ability to take on more apprentices – supporting the CBI’s longstanding call for greater flexibility in the system
  • Many businesses are struggling to fill apprenticeship places: almost half (49%) of respondents have experienced difficulty in recruiting apprentices or expect to do so in the next three years.
Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:
“Given the speed and scale of the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, companies have worked very hard to get ready against a tight timescale.
“The survey results give an early indication of employer behaviour, reinforcing business’ long-standing frustration that the levy’s narrow design pushes their focus onto cost recovery rather than good training that will drive staff progression and wider economic benefits.
“Increased flexibility will be vital so businesses can fund a wider range of training that better reflects employer and individual’s skills needs. Looking ahead to the introduction of the new technical education routes, we need to ensure we don’t employ the same rushed and politically-driven approach to system design.
“Business is looking to progress the positive partnership with the Department for Education, in particular helping to improve the levy’s impact and evolve the system so that it works for everyone.” 
Rod Bristow, Pearson’s President, UK and Core Markets, said:
“We need a system that delivers high standards in three key pathways: the kind of academic skills we see in A-Levels, broader career preparation that we see in BTECs and specific occupation and job skills that will be represented by the government's planned T-levels and more apprenticeships. These routes will all provide real opportunities for young people and help address the skills requirements of British business.” 
  1. Careers guidance overwhelmingly ‘not good enough’
84% of businesses surveyed do not feel the quality of careers advice young people receive in schools is good enough. The Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC), the recently created body tasked with improving business-school links, is known to 21% of firms and encouragingly 75% of those surveyed indicated a willingness to play a greater role by delivering careers advice directly in schools and colleges.
  • More than a third (35%) of businesses say there is too little guidance and support on how to make work experience places worthwhile for young people
  • Firms believe there is a lack of awareness among young people of the education routes they need to take to enter particular careers (50%) and careers advice being poorly aligned to the sectors (49%), which leads to skill shortages
  • Levels of awareness and understanding across business about the new GCSE grading system are growing, but 35% of respondents are wholly unaware of the reforms in England.
Firms value effective school and college partnerships due to the role they can play in supporting young people and their schools, with subject knowledge, careers inspiration or practical business expertise.
Survey responses show:
  • Four out of five (81%) businesses have at least some links with schools and/or colleges, with connections most widespread between businesses and secondary schools (66%) and FE colleges (63%)
  • 31% of employers with established links to primary schools have increased their engagement over the past year, while even more have increased their engagement with secondary schools (35%) and FE colleges (45%)
  • Work placements for a week or two remain the most widespread work experience, offered by more than nine in ten of firms providing work experience (92%).
Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:
“Quality of teaching, learning and careers inspiration defines the life chances of young people – it’s a shared challenge for us all. Businesses are committed to supporting schools, increasingly at primary level, to help bring lessons to life and open-up opportunities beyond the school gates.  
“There is genuine alarm about the quality and consistency of careers advice available in many schools.  Companies aren’t asking teachers to do more – schools need support to do this, from the long-awaited Careers Strategy, the CEC and businesses rolling up their sleeves and helping.”
Rod Bristow, Pearson’s President, UK and Core Markets, said:
“Recent changes in the UK examination system have aimed to raise educational standards, ensure our qualifications are sufficiently challenging the young people taking them and raising the bar for students moving into HE and the workplace.
“Awareness and understanding across British business about the new 9-1 grading system is growing with one in four businesses understanding the changes. This is an improvement on surveys of employers from earlier this year but there remains more work to do.”
The tenth CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey was conducted between February and April 2017, with responses received from 344 organisations. Participants ranged in size from firms with fewer than 50 employees to those with more than 5,000; SMEs accounted for nearly a third of respondents (30%). Respondents were drawn from all sectors of the economy, ranging from manufacturing (14%) to construction (10%) and professional services (11%).
About the CBI: Across the UK, the CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors. The CBI’s corporate members together employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of private sector-employees. With offices in the UK as well as representation in Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the CBI communicates the British business voice around the world.
About Pearson: Pearson is the world’s learning company, with expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology. Our mission is to help people make progress through access to better learning. We believe that learning opens up opportunities, creating fulfilling careers and better lives.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Solvendis added a new event yesterday

Designated Safeguarding Lead Training (Zoom Conferencing)

A provider’s Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) plays a critical role in its approach to safeguarding its learners, training its staff, providing...

  • Wednesday, 15 September 2021 10:00 AM
  • Zoom Conferencing
Solvendis added a new event yesterday

Level 3 Award in Education & Training (Zoom Conferencing)

  • Thursday, 23 September 2021 10:00 AM
  • Zoom Conferencing
Solvendis added a new event yesterday

Ofsted Inspection Nominee Training (Zoom Conferencing)

Within inspection, Ofsted invites providers to nominate a senior member of staff to act as the main link with the inspection team. Ofsted suggests...

  • Friday, 23 July 2021 10:00 AM
  • Zoom Conferencing

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page