The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee in the House of Commons recently ran a public call for evidence on post-pandemic growth and the UK labour market. The Committee wished to understand whether the UK has enough workers with the right skills in the right places to do the jobs required in our economy.
At Ufi, we see it as a core function of the UK labour market to provide the skilled people necessary for the success of the UK economy. As the UK moves out of the pandemic, economic growth will be underpinned by increasing productivity which has to come from improving the skills base of the labour market. We know that digital tools and technology present a proven means to deliver the skills system the UK needs. Well designed technology allows older people, people looking to enter or re-enter the job market and those who have not thrived in traditional education to better access training and opportunities.
In our response to the BEIS Select Committee we make three key points:
- The UK needs to use technology to get the right skills in the right places
This means supporting and funding digital infrastructure, addressing digital poverty and ensuring that qualified and well-equipped teachers exist across the UK. Technology can unlock training and work opportunities for those furthest from them. By including and supporting parts of the UK labour market who are furthest from the benefits of economic growth, we can address some of the most chronic skills shortages and biggest labour market inequities.
- Technology is changing the workplace and it should change how we prepare for work
Technology is changing how we are recruited, how we reskill in work and how we interact with each other in the workplace. While it is important that regulations around workers’ rights are strong, it is important that those regulations do not inhibit well developed and deployed digital tools that have the power to make the workplace more inclusive for those furthest from work and training. By giving learners agency over their own future, the right tech-based approach can reduce barriers to participation and make everyone more active participants in work.
- As we work for longer, technology can support how individuals and society adjust, future-proofing UK skills
Retraining is essential for all workers, but in particular older workers and those who want to get into work, who often face the biggest risks when deciding to start retraining and have some of the most significant number of responsibilities outside of work. Flexible funding models, and tools, which empower individuals and employers to learn throughout their lives is essential. Technology can make training more accessible by reducing the financial, personal and time risks. We cannot learn all that we need in the first 18 years of our lives, we all need to retrain throughout our working lives.
Our response is supported by case studies from several Ufi supported projects and ventures operating across the UK. The relevant projects include:
A careers platform where students can experience the world of work and university before they apply.
Thrive - Career Matters
Guided support for care leavers via a skills platform, which offers personalised layers of support for learners.
Cities of Learning - The RSA
Creates new pathways into learning and employment by connecting formal, informal, and in-work learning opportunities that exist across cities via a system of digital open badges.
Helps jobseekers, looking for employment in lower paying sectors like services and hospitality, recognise the skills that they have, find and apply for relevant high-quality jobs, and to develop new skills to improve their employability and career progression.
Digital Aspire - Digital Unite
Focuses on people with Learning Disabilities who can work but are unemployed and would like to find new roles by supporting learners to develop their digital skills and confidence.
Offers learners intensive bootcamp training for those wanting to start a career in cyber-security.
A digital platform and online community providing access to crucial care skills for the 13.5 million unpaid carers in the UK.
Each case study explores how technology can help the UK improve skills, address the productivity crisis and secure strong post-pandemic growth.
You can read the Executive Summary and recommendations below – or download the full response