Progression paths key to solving skills crisis, says UKCES CEO

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Ensuring there are clear routes “from the shop floor to senior leadership” is an important way for employers to retain skills, according to UK Commission for Employment and Skills chief executive Michael Davis.

Davis was commenting on the report Growth Through People, released today by UKCES, CBI and TUC. He told HR magazine employers need to look beyond external recruitment if they are to be sustainable in the long term.

“You can bring in highly talented young people from outside your organisation, but that in itself won’t be enough,” he said. “Businesses also need to focus on the people they already employ. One of the ways to do this is to look at the career paths and ask yourself if there is a route to get from the shop floor to senior leadership positions.”

Recommendations in the report include improving workplace productivity and an employer-led drive to increase skills and wages, supported by the government and unions, to raise British businesses’ standing in the international market.

Another area of focus in the paper is on “bridging the gap” between education and employment. Davis said that companies can help to do this by abandoning the mindset that there should be “oven-ready” employees coming out of education that they can simply “consume”.

John Lewis Partnership and UKCES chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield echoed the need for a new approach to learning, with employers taking their share of responsibility.

“The imperative is stronger than ever to establish quality vocational pathways as a preferred alternative for many… That needs to start early, with more integration between the worlds of work and education, and extend via a new norm of earning and learning into a lifetime of development, increasing productivity and pay,” he said.