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Covid Will Change Future of Work and Skills Say Business Leaders

By The Careers and Enterprise Company

#FutureofWork Survey – Working from home is here to stay: Skills such as communication, self-motivation and reliability will now be essential.

Britain’s business leaders believe the workplace transformations brought on by Covid-19 will now become a permanent feature of the way we work and change demand for skills, according to new research released today.

The research indicates that business leaders believe the profound impact the pandemic has had on work-life will have lasting effects. Moves towards fewer people in offices, more home and virtual working are set to stay.

More than three-quarters of business leaders (77%) agree that fewer people in the workplace and office and more working from home will now become a permanent feature of working life.

More than four in five (83%) agree that on-line and virtual working will now remain a significant feature of the way we work.

The poll of 250 medium & large business leaders by Savanta ComRes for the Careers & Enterprise Company comes as NatWest boss Alison Rose recently predicted a hybrid flexible future combining home and office working as the new normal, with many businesses announcing they will continue to maintain a mix of home and office working.

The latest Office for National Statistics retail numbers show online now accounting for a record £3 out of every £10 spent, with a 47 per cent surge in online and mail-order sales since February.

Such underlying forces, accelerated by the pandemic lockdown, are shifting thinking in Britain’s boardrooms about what the future of work looks like and shaping views on the skills needed to succeed.

The vast majority of business leaders agree that skills such as communication, self-motivation and the reliability to work remotely are now essential (83%) and that demand for digital and IT skills will increase due to the rise in online and virtual working (85%).

In what is a challenging and changing jobs market, business leaders recognise the need to support young people looking for jobs. Over three quarters say they have a responsibility to ensure those leaving school in the current environment do not become a lost generation (77%), and that there is now an increased need for employers to support young people entering the world of work (76%).

Business leaders believe certain key skills and qualities will be vital in improving young people’s job prospects.

They highlight skills needs driven by a changing workplace shaped by lockdown. More than three in five (63%) say self-motivation, preparedness and the skills to work remotely will be very important and nearly three in five (59%) say digital and IT skills will be very important.

Three in five (60%) say essential employability skills such as presenting, problem solving, creativity and teamwork are very important – 58 per cent say literacy and numeracy are very important.

New ways of working create new challenges, with nearly three in ten (29%) believing the new remote working environment creates barriers to induction, training and learning the business culture and values, which could constrain the recruitment of school leavers.

John Yarham, Interim CEO of The Careers & Enterprise Company said:

The impact of the pandemic has forced business to adapt and adjust at pace. It has also accelerated many underlying changes in the economy and the way we work.

These changes in the nature and culture of the workplace are in turn shaping the skills and qualities employers look for in young people.

In such a landscape, careers education is critical in helping young people respond to change and matching their aspirations and ambitions with the opportunities in the jobs market.

The relationships and connections we create between schools, colleges and employers build a bridge between the worlds of education and employment and support young people in making informed choices about the next steps on their career journey.

The survey in numbers:

What impact do business leaders think the Covid-19 crisis will have on business?

  • 85% agree that online and virtual working will increase demand for digital and IT skills.
  • 83% agree that communication, self-motivation and reliability to work remotely will now be essential.
  • 83% agree that online and virtual working will remain a significant feature of the way they work.
  • 77% agree that fewer people in the workplace or office and more working from home will now become a permanent feature of working life.

How important do business leaders think the following qualities and skills are in improving young people’s employment prospects in the post-Covid jobs market?

  • 93% say essential employability skills such as listening, presenting, problem solving, creativity, leadership and teamwork are important – 60% say very important
  • 93% say literacy and numeracy are important – 58% say very important
  • 92% say self-motivation, preparedness and skills to work remotely are important – 63% say very important
  • 92% say digital and IT skills are important – 59% say very important
  • 89% say strong academic results and qualifications are important – 55% say very important
  • 89% say wider character behaviours like resilience and adaptability are important – 46% say very important
  • 86% say technical and vocational education qualifications are important – 41% say very important
  • 84% say relevant work experience is important – 46% very important 

Methodology: The Savanta ComRes poll for the Careers & Enterprise Company interviewed 251 business leaders from medium & large companies (i.e. with 250 employees or more) in the UK online between 26 June and 1 July 2020. 28% of business leaders interviewed were c-suite (MD, CEO, CFO), 23% director, 49% senior management. 25% of organisations employed 250-499 employees, 31% employed 500-1000 employees and 44% more than 1,000 employees. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables are available on the Savanta ComRes website.

UK Faces a ‘Tsunami’ of Unemployment in the Autumn
September 8, 2020
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The TUC is encouraging the government to create a new job protection and upskilling programme as the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) comes to a close next month.

Tuc Union

Following Bank of England predictions that 2.5 million people could be out of work by the end of the year, the TUC warned the clock is ticking to avoid a “tsunami of unemployment” in Autumn.

It said the government risked throwing away the good work achieved by the JRS and has therefore created a new short-time working scheme designed to prevent mass unemployment and help firms bounce back after the crisis.

Short-time working is where employees agree to or are forced to accept a reduction in working time and pay.

The Job Protection and Upskilling Deal also focuses on helping workers whose jobs are at risk to develop the skills they need for the future.

The TUC recommended businesses receive a 70% subsidy from the government provided they bring back every worker on the scheme for a minimum proportion of their normal working hours.

Any worker whose employer needs them to work for less than 50% of their normal hours would receive free reskilling training.

Employees would also receive 80% of their salary for the hours they are not in work, including when they are training.

Companies would only get help if they can demonstrate they have been hit by coronavirus restrictions, pay their fair share of tax in the UK, boost workers’ rights, pay staff fairly and do not pay dividends while using the scheme.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary said working people must not bear the brunt of the recession.

“Protecting decent jobs with fair pay is how we recover. The job retention scheme showed what government can do during a crisis. It saved many people from the dole queue and stopped good companies going to the wall.”

Ben Willmott, head of policy at the CIPD, said there was need for the government to consider additional support for employers once the furlough scheme had closed.

“The sort of short-time working scheme proposed by the TUC has a proven track record of supporting employment in other countries and could help employers hardest hit by COVID-19 to continue to minimise redundancies, particularly in the event of significant local outbreaks or a full blown national second wave over the winter.

“The focus on upskilling is also crucial at this time but many workers who would fall outside the remit of the TUC’s proposed scheme also need support to train so we think that it would make more sense to significantly expand the National Retraining Scheme for this purpose.”

The plan also has built-in contingencies for companies hit by local lockdowns, with companies in this situation automatically qualifying for help through the scheme.

In Austria, unions and employers have extended their coronavirus short-time work scheme for another six months and in France, this will be extended to June 2022.

Agata Nowakowska, area vice president at Skillsoft, said a short-time working model and retraining could help us better prepare for jobs of the future.

“As the war for talent intensifies in the post-pandemic circumstances, employee development and talent pooling will become increasingly vital to building a modern workforce that’s adaptable and flexible.

“Addressing and easing workplace role transitions will require new training models and approaches that include on-the-job training and opportunities that support and signpost workers to opportunities to upgrade their skills.”

Which Soft Skills are Important in 2020?

Article by Australian Careers Service.

With competition in the workforce fiercer than ever, the importance of softs skills has never been higher. In contrast to a formal qualification, soft skills — things you don’t typically learn at uni — can be what sets a person apart in the workplace.

Soft skills are considered to have more nuance, take longer to develop and are harder to acquire, making the key for customer or client retention. But which soft skills are the most important? A good place to start is to look at what others are learning.

Udemy hosts over 150,000 courses hosted by experts that can be taken anywhere, any time. A recent report looked at consumption of their courses between 2016 and 2019, to determine the top skills that have had the highest rank change. 

Along with the skills listed below, the report also includes storytelling, culture awareness, critical thinking, leadership and emotional intelligence in the top 10 soft skills. 

Growth Mindset 

A growth mindset promotes the idea that we can get better at or improve our ability in anything we put the effort into. Harvard Business Review says that ‘individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset.’  

A growth mindset goes hand-in-hand with ambitious goal setting and achievement, so it’s no surprise that it’s the number one soft skill for career progression in all industries and at all levels. Udemy currently has over 4,00 courses in the topic! 

Creativity 

What was once considered an innate skill of those in artistic professions, creativity has shown to be a key factor in all industries. The world needs innovative leaders with new ideas, and creativity is a crucial element in problem-solving. Creativity courses specialise in areas like innovation and business, idea generation, coding, lateral thinking and harnessing your imagination. 

Focus Mastery 

In a world full of distractions and technology at our fingertips, staying focused has never been more of a challenge — but while many of us are now working from home, it’s never been more important. Courses are available to help power through your to-do list and increase your productivity. 

Innovation 

As many businesses and individuals need to adapt their products and business models, there is an increasing need for innovation. According to Forbes, ‘innovation isn’t solely represented by new devices, ideas or methods, but also by the process of uncovering new ways to do things’. You can take courses in innovation that tie in with themes such as creativity, design thinking and leadership. 

Communication 

Encompassing many elements of work life, communication is a skill that can refer to public speaking, emails, one-to-one discussions, meetings and presentations. Good communication can build trust, propel projects forward and improve morale. At a management level, it’s essential for delegation, conflict resolution, and project management in general. You can improve your communication skills to improve your assertiveness, sharpen your business acumen or increase your confidence. 

Employment Minister and Skills Minister to Speak at Employment and Skills Convention 2020
July 6, 2020
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New Free Online Learning Platform to Boost Workplace Skills
April 29, 2020
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Online platform ‘The Skills Toolkit’ will help people to build their skills during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond.

A new online learning platform to help boost the nation’s skills while people are staying at home, has been launched today (28 April) by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

The Skills Toolkit

Free courses are available through a new online platform hosted on the gov.uk website, called The Skills Toolkit. The new platform gives people access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost their job prospects.

These are the skills which are highly valued by employers and sought after in a wide range of jobs. With more people expected to be working and studying remotely in the coming months, the platform offers a great opportunity to learn new skills to help to get ahead online and gain the knowledge we’ll all need for the future. The platform also offers employees who have been furloughed an opportunity to keep up their skills development while they are at home.

Courses on offer cover a range of levels, from everyday maths and tools for using email and social media more effectively at work to more advanced training. Individuals will be able to access courses helping them to create great online content developed by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding, to understand the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing from Google Digital Garage and to learn how to code for data analysis from the Open University. All courses are online and flexible, so people can work through them at their own pace.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

I know how difficult the recent months have been and the huge changes the coronavirus has brought on the daily lives of us all.

The high-quality and free to access courses on offer on our new online learning platform, The Skills Toolkit, will help those whose jobs have been affected by the outbreak, and people looking to boost their skills while they are staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

I want businesses to encourage their furloughed employees to use The Skills Toolkit to improve their knowledge, build their confidence and support their mental health so they have skills they need to succeed after the coronavirus outbreak.

The Skills Toolkit is designed to help people gain new skills while they are staying at home and boost their confidence. The courses have been selected on the advice of experts and leading employers to make sure they meet the needs of business, not just for today but in the future. This is just a first step towards assisting with the longer-term recovery to boost employability across the country, helping people to build up the skills employers need during time spent at home.

Employers are also encouraged to use The Skills Toolkit to help to support and develop furloughed employees who are interested in learning from home.

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director said:

Online learning is a great way for people to upgrade their skills at any time, but never more so than during a lockdown.

The toolkit’s heavy emphasis on the skills that businesses need are welcome.

Maths and digital skills are highly prized by employers, so for those who take the chance to upskill they can help improve their job prospects and career progression. I’d encourage all businesses to make their staff aware of this learning opportunity.

UK Talent Shortage Doubles in Last Decade
February 6, 2020
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The UK’s talent shortage has more than doubled since its lowest reported point in 2010 (9%), according to the latest Talent Shortage Survey by ManpowerGroup.

The Closing the Skills Gap: What UK Workers Want in 2020 survey found that 23% of UK employers were unable to find the talent they needed last year.

Skilled trades such as electricians, welders, and mechanics topped the list of most in-demand roles, with jobs in healthcare, accounting and finance, management and teaching making the top five.

According to ManpowerGroup, the companies worst affected by talent shortages were larger companies of over 250 employees, of which over half (51%) reported talent shortages.

SMEs in the survey fared much better overall in seeking skilled talent, with only 21% of businesses with less than 10 employees reporting difficulties in filling roles.

In order to stem the shortage, Chris Gray, director of Manpower Group UK, said companies need to develop internal talent.

He said: “With growing talent shortages across the UK, it’s no longer a question of simply finding talent; we need to build it. Organisations need to be agile, and willing to stretch their candidate offering, increasing salaries isn’t enough of a differentiator anymore.”

This follows the British Chambers of Commerce’s Quarterly Recruitment Outlook that linked recruitment struggles in the last quarter of 2019 to a ‘critical skills shortage’ across the country, and pinpointed construction as one of the most impacted sectors.

Michelle Nettles, chief people and culture officer at ManpowerGroup, argued that businesses need to encourage a culture of learnability.

She said: “Our ability to continuously learn is the most important skill we’ll need to succeed in the jobs of today and tomorrow.

“As leaders, it is our responsibility to foster a culture of learnability, which requires leaders to be coaches, increasing and accelerating career mobility and creating relevant and curated learning pathways, not one-size-fits-all.”

The survey collected the views of 1,000 employers in the UK.

Unison Survey Results: Skills for the Future
January 14, 2020
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UNISON has released a comprehensive report on its research into public service workers’ experiences, hopes and fears around learning, training, and the future of work.

UNISON Learning & Organising

The Skills For The Future survey was undertaken by the University of Exeter’s Marchmont Observatory on behalf of UNISON. With over 38,000 responses, the survey was the biggest of its kind, beating UNISON’s own record of 27,000 responses in its 2011 Skills For Life survey.

Survey respondents were overwhelmingly keen to learn, with half stating that training had improved the way that they did their job, and over four fifths saying that they were ready to learn new skills.

Respondents fear that they are not being provided with the training they need to keep up with advances in technology and other changes in the workplace. They are also worried about the risk of redundancy, with over a third believing that it was ‘very likely’ that their position would be made redundant within the next three years, and three fifths believing that automation is putting public sector jobs at risk.

More than one in every ten survey respondents said that a lack of skills or confidence in literacy or numeracy had stopped them applying for a promotion, taking on extra responsibilities at work, or asking to attend training.

But the research also suggested that the main problem was one of under-utilisation and that most workers had skills greater than those needed for their job, but were prevented from progressing in their careers by a lack of in-work training.

Two thirds of respondents thought that their computer and digital skills needed improving, and nearly half identified a need for training in managerial or supervisory skills.

The report has been released in the same week as the Labour Party’s commitment to paid time off for employees to access education and training, and its promise to improve careers advice for adults.

Teresa Donegan, head of learning and organising services, said, ‘The most precious asset that any employer possesses is its staff, and that’s an asset that should be invested in. We often hear what industries and employers want from the workforce. What makes this research unique is the fact that this is the voice of the workers. Staff have told us what they need. Now it’s up to the government and to employers to listen.

‘UNISON is justifiably proud of the learning we offer our members, and we support thousands of people every year through free learning opportunities. But we shouldn’t be filling the gaps left by employers shirking their responsibilities.’

Roger McKenzie, assistant general secretary, said, ‘Cuts to further education and adult education have meant that too many people are barred from progression at work and in everyday life. This research shows that it’s causing real damage.’

Skills for the Future: Executive Summary

Skills for the Future: Full Report

Skills for the Future: Presentation

UK Employers Urged to Upskill Workers
November 26, 2019
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As businesses around the world race to upskill their workforces, City & Guilds Group warns that UK employers risk being left behind

UK employers must do more to upskill their workforces or risk lagging behind employers in other parts of the world, according to City & Guilds Group.

It surveyed 6,500 employees and 1,300 employers across 13 international markets and found significant differences in L&D investment in different parts of the globe.

The research showed that employers in developing countries with rapidly emerging economies are among the most likely to ramp up investment in upskilling their workforce in the near future, compared to developed economies such as the UK.

A significant proportion of Indian (92%) and Kenyan (78%) employers predicted a net increase in L&D investment in the next 12 months, compared to just 54% of employers in the UK. 

This is concerning considering only 13% of UK employees would rate the L&D opportunities at their organisation over the past year as very effective, compared to 31% of employees in India, researchers said.

When asked about skills, 71% of employees globally recognised that the skills they need to do their job will change in the next three to five years. However, only 66% of UK workers think their employer is keeping pace with these changing skills.

UK employers had a more positive outlook, with three-quarters (75%) saying they’re confident they have the skilled staff they need for the next three to five years. 

This highlights a worrying gap between employer and employee perceptions which could lead to lower retention rates, poor performance and opportunities as for employees to seek out organisations which can better meet their training needs.

John Yates, group director for corporate learning at City & Guilds Group, said the research shows that upskilling is less of a priority in the UK than he hoped. 

“Businesses worldwide are navigating a period of immense transformation – and this is particularly evident in emerging economies where organisations are ramping up their investment in L&D as they embrace technology and hone the skills required to compete on a global stage. 

“However, our study shows investment in skills is less of an immediate priority for employers in the UK – putting us at risk of lagging behind other, more future-focused countries,” he said.

He urged employers to listen to workers’ needs on training and development: “With the workforce becoming increasingly mobile – and the influx of overseas talent crucial to the future of British businesses – UK employers cannot afford complacency. 

“Employers need to listen to their workers’ training needs and ensure they continue to focus on upskilling or risk losing talent to other markets who are making this a priority. Equipping workforces with the skills to succeed in the future is a marathon, not a sprint, but those who overlook the importance of skills investment risk dropping out of the race altogether.”

The study also found that employers in developing economies are feeling the impact of technological advances in the workplace most acutely.

While just 25% of employers in the US and 42% in the UK recognise the impact of digital transformation on their business, this rose to 65% of Kenyan and 62% of Indian employers. Equally, when it comes to automation and AI, the majority of employers surveyed in Malaysia (60%) and India (58%) found this to be a major driver of change, compared to just 27% of employers in the UK.

Paul Grainger, co-director of the centre for post-14 education and work and head of enterprise and innovation for the department of education, practice and society (EPS) at UCL, said technology can help to support the changing workforce. 

“The foreseeable future is likely to be dominated by emerging digital technologies. These can help individuals and communities to grow, become more agile, develop skills and network with a wider, global community,” he said.

“As these technologies are able to transcend borders, they help organisations and the communities in which they are based to adapt to the evolving needs of the community and the world at large. They support agility. And as workplace change is increasingly rapid, it is likely that those regions actively engaged in emerging markets will be better placed to manage the tensions between flexibility and predictability.”

14 Best Sites for Taking Online Classes to Boost Skills
September 4, 2019
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If you, your colleagues or your clients are looking to pick up a new skill, then an on-line course may be appropriate. They are shorter than a college course, they’re typically self-regulated, and they cover just about every skill, topic, or hobby you can possibly imagine.

But with this luxury comes great responsibility—mainly, the task of finding a site that works best for you.

Below is a list of resources that offer free, cheap, and quality classes right here on the internet.

Now all you have to do is sign up for one!

1. ALISON

ALISON has a large range of free, comprehensive classes on financial literacy, personal and soft skills, digital skills, entrepreneurship and then some. It targets all kinds of learners, from professionals and managers to teachers and freelancers.

2. Udemy

Udemy has plenty to offer for the learner on a budget, from completely free courses taught by experts, professors, entrepreneurs, and professionals, to frequent discounts and class specials. In addition to classes in tech, business, and marketing, you can also explore options in productivity, health, hobbies, and lifestyle.

3. Coursera

If you want to receive a college education without the high cost of tuition, Coursera is the best stop. This website offers amazing courses in all kinds of fields, from professional development to psychology, history, and literature—all created and taught by professors at top institutions nationally and across the globe. Their universities include Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and plenty more.

4. edX

Just like Coursera, edX offers anyone, anywhere the chance to take university classes in various departments—and get certified. Some of their big partners include Harvard, Berkeley, Dartmouth, Georgetown, and the University of Chicago (and that’s not all!).

5. Udacity

Udacity focuses on software development, offering free courses in programming, data science, and web development. The website also offers a nanodegree program for individuals who want to master a skillset or pursue a full-time career in tech.

6. Lynda

By subscribing to Lynda, you’ll have access to thousands of courses in business, design, art, education, and tech. And it offers a free 10-day trial so you can test the waters!

7. General Assembly

General Assembly offers both online and in-person classes, as well as full-time and part-time options. It focuses mainly on digital skills, covering subjects such as digital marketing, iOS and Android development, data analytics, and JavaScript.

8. Skillshare

Skillshare provides “bite-sized” classes to learners who only have 15 minutes a day. It has over 500 free classes and several thousand premium classes to choose from in topics such as film, writing, tech, lifestyle, and more.

9. LearnSmart

LearnSmart’s orientated toward career development, which is why it’s a great place to learn about IT and security, project management, Office, HR, and business.

10. Codecademy

Codecademy wants to teach you how to, well, code—and for free. It covers all kinds of programming, including JavaScript, Ruby, HTML, CSS, and Python.

11. Pluralsight

After subscribing to Pluralsight (or using its free trial!), you’ll be able to explore classes in software, 3D development, VFX, design, game design, web design, and CAD software.

12. Adobe TV

Not sure how to use Photoshop or InDesign? Don’t worry, Adobe TV will walk you through all its programs with tutorials, manuals, and more.

13. FutureLearn

FutureLearn’s completely free, with classes taught by universities and special organizations. Its big topics are business and management, creative arts, law, health, politics, science, digital skills, sports and leisure, and teaching.

14. Academic Earth

And if you’re looking solely for academic classes, this website is perfect for you. It has courses in the arts, science, humanities, economics, computer science, and more, all for free.

Still don’t know where to start? Try Class Central—it personalizes your class search by asking you from the get-go what you’re interested in learning and from whom. Then, it pairs you with options from Coursera, edX, and other forums to find what best suits your needs, making the process even easier!

Taskforce Launched to Create Essential Skills Framework
August 20, 2019
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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.