From education to employment

Too many adults risk losing jobs over lack of skills

Too many adults are vulnerable to losing their jobs because they do not have the opportunity to gain the skills to compete in today’s rapidly changing labour market, according to a new study.

The Survey of Adult Skills, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), analysed literacy, numeracy and technology skills across the world, concluding that low-skilled adults should be given more learning opportunities.

Chris Jones, chief executive of awarding body City & Guilds said the findings were a “wake-up call” for the government.

“One key area for concern is the poor supply of skilled people entering the workforce compared to other countries,” he said.

“Employers that I speak to constantly make this point to me.”? ?Jones stressed the importance of high quality work placements and career guidance in preparing young people for work, adding:

“Now is the time to act and play our part in creating a highly skilled workforce that is the envy of our international competitors.”

The National Institute for Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) also responded positively to the study, saying it confirmed their concerns about “serious inequalities” in opportunities to learn new skills.

Chief executive David Hughes said adults who miss out on learning basic literacy, numeracy and technology are more likely to lose their jobs and become “trapped in a low-skills, no-learning cycle of creeping hopelessness”.

He said: “Most worrying is the particularly large proportion of adults who have low levels of numeracy skills, the fact that the pool of highly skilled adults is likely to shrink and the impact that low skills have on social inequalities, especially for young people and when compared to other countries.”

Hughes called for a culture where people aspire to learn new skills to help their families and communities, adding: “We cannot allow a situation where the adults who don’t participate in learning are the ones who need to improve their skills the most for the sake of their future career prospects.”

Duncan Drury


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