Several organisations have come together to create the UK’s first universal framework for essential skills
The Essential Skills Taskforce, made up of the CIPD, The Careers & Enterprise Company, Business in the Community (BITC), the Gatsby Foundation, EY Foundation and the Skills Builder Partnership, aims to address employers’ growing need for a more rounded set of skills, such as critical thinking and creativity.
Due to launch in 2020, the framework will consist of a set of apps and online tools to provide candidates with a better idea of the skills required to succeed in a role, help employers hire the right people, and show what progression will look like for each different skill so employers can map out how to upskill or reskill workers.
The framework will also be geared towards making educators aware of the skills employers need so they can ensure students are well equipped to join the modern workforce.
Employers from a range of sectors will be consulted about the framework and it will go through several development stages. The final version is expected to be published in Spring 2020.
Chief executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) Matthew Taylor called for a universal skills framework in his review of modern working practices in 2017.
He welcomed the creation of a new Essential Skills Taskforce: “With the nature of work continuing to evolve, it is challenging to predict exactly what technical abilities and skills will be needed in years to come. However, there’s growing recognition that the core skills, which are essentially human and behavioural, will be vital in almost all jobs and roles.”
He added: “The work of the taskforce is an important step towards achieving a common understanding of these essential skills from education right through to our workplaces. Establishing a framework and a common language for these skills is vital in creating the clarity we need to achieve more productive, high-performing workplaces that enable people whatever their backgrounds to feel engaged and empowered in their jobs.’’
John Holman, Emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of York and former STEM skills adviser to the government, will chair the Essential Skills Taskforce. He commented that despite the rise of automation at work, employees will still need specific skills that can’t be replicated by technology.
“If you ask employers what they are looking for in the people they hire, they increasingly specify essential skills like communication and teamwork. They take for granted that employees must have sound educational qualifications, and what makes the difference is the higher order essential skills which a machine cannot offer,” he said.
“By producing a universal framework of essential skills that are clear, measurable and authoritative, we will give employers a toolkit that they can use to select and train the employees they need to succeed in tomorrow’s workplace. Equally importantly, it will be a toolkit that schools, colleges and universities can use to help the students develop these skills.”
News of the framework comes as students receive their exam results. Rachael Saunders, education director at BITC, said that some of the skills needed at work are frequently overlooked by the education system.
“While the knowledge that young people will gain through their studies is vital, essential skills such as teamwork, creativity, leadership and problem solving are in danger of being forgotten. These skills are valuable now and will remain vital in the future as a balanced focus between knowledge and skills directly links to the UK’s economic development and productivity,” she said.
“Employees and students must be supported to build the skills they need now for our changing world of work, and given access to learning that will equip them to develop the skills they need for the future.”
Saunders called on employers and educators to work together to address the skills challenge in the UK. “If businesses are looking for specific essential skills, they need to work with educators using a curriculum that’s relevant to modern life. This will ensure that businesses benefit from the workforce of the future having the skills they need while leading the way in providing good and fair employment opportunities to all, regardless of background,” she said.