Adult career guidance could end skills shortage, report says

A new paper from employment advisory ReWAGE has argued adult career guidance could improve the UK’s skills shortage and improve employment rates.

In March 2023 there were one million vacancies in the UK, yet an estimated seven million adults of working age were not in work, many of whom were economically inactive, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The paper’s recommendations to improve this shortage included a government-funded career support system to support people in or out of work into education and training.

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Irena Grugulis, co-chair of ReWAGE, said there is overwhelming evidence to support adult career guidance as a benefit to both employers and the government. 

She said: “Good adult career guidance can benefit employees, employers and the economy and can help to ensure that the workforce of 2030 and beyond is ready and able to meet the challenges ahead.”

Ian Luxford, learning and development specialist at employee engagement agency The Motivation Agency, said the paper demonstrates the positive impact effective career guidance can have.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “I think it demonstrates that addressing skills shortages cannot be left to the ‘free market’ if such a thing exists. We clearly need a coherent strategy and one that targets the greatest areas of need. 

“A truly strategic approach would include bringing together the areas of highest demand for skills with the people who are the potential future suppliers of those skills.” 

Other recommendations included greater public financial investment in career guidance and data gathering around employment, and the creation of official employer guidance on learning and development. 

Luxford said employers must nurture resilience and adaptability in their staff.

He added: “The demands of the labour market in the long term are currently hard to predict; the shape of the workforce will change substantially due to factors such as artificial intelligence.”

Grugulis said many employees are not receiving the development, support and guidance they need from their employers.

She said: “Workers are rightly anticipating the need to upskill, reskill and adapt to new roles.

“They need a well-connected and established skills system with career guidance support at its heart to help them understand the skills required in the current labour market.”

The full report can be found here.