The challenge of skills gaps continues to widen in key sectors and industries continue to experience barriers in bridging the training needs for a sustainable workforce.
Most prominent, and perhaps most surprising, is the gap in digital skills. Despite its position as the UK’s fastest growing industry, the country is facing a massive digital skills talent shortage across the board, with the latest report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) estimating the cyber security recruitment pool falls short by 10,000 people a year, and 66% of UK digital leaders are unable to keep up with industry changes due to a lack of talent.
Other research shows there is still a gap between education outcomes and what industries need. It can sometimes seem industry and education don’t always ‘speak the same language’, and there is a need to understand the challenges each side faces. To continue working towards mutual value and upskill the nation’s workforce, both parties need to listen and be open to working collaboratively.
Here are a few ways to do that:
Utilise the apprenticeship levy
Apprenticeships are a key ingredient in any industry’s talent strategy, proving invaluable in future-proofing a business’s workforce by upskilling and reskilling new and existing team members. They allow businesses to rise to the challenge of staying current in knowledge and accessing the skills they need to drive performance, deliver results and be successful. What’s more, they allow employers to utilise their apprenticeship levy – an often-overlooked business expenditure.
There is plenty of scope for employers to build loyal relationships with educational providers whereby they can help create an apprenticeship strategy that benefits them and their workforce specifically.
Collaborate with T Level providers
Since launching in September 2020, T Levels have been hailed the biggest shake-up to education in a decade, creating a direct pathway for a smooth transition into industry and a coherent dialogue between employers and education. Created in collaboration with industry experts, T Levels are high quality technical alternatives to A Levels, combining classroom theory with practical learning and a work placement to equip students with the real-world skills needed to help bridge the skills gaps.
Businesses that work with colleges on T Levels benefit from having early access to new, upcoming talent – helping to kickstart the careers of young people and helping the business build a pipeline of talent.
Introduce or increase work placement offerings
Work placements are an opportunity to introduce young people and those who lack experience to the reality of working life. They’re not only a great opportunity for learners, helping them gain confidence and on the job experience, but they can also inspire new perspectives and ideas among businesses.
Young people bring fresh ideas and approaches which could open new and emerging markets for the business, along with helping employees increase their understanding of modern learning processes and current educational qualifications.
Share insights and tailor curriculum
To bridge the skills gap, it’s important that employers are openly communicating the areas of their industries which are suffering shortages in knowledge and experience. Many education providers will tailor their curriculum to the needs of their business partners and the skills those businesses are lacking, therefore creating workers that will be ready to step into the workplace straight from education.
Reskill existing staff
As well as utilising education providers to help discover new talent, employers can make use of various educational programmes to reskill their existing staff. Apprenticeships allow employers to grow their own talent and the specific skills they need, whether it’s among those who are leaving education or those who are already in work looking to develop their existing skills or learn new ones.
They unlock the potential of workers at all stages of their careers, and that’s a game changer for any business.
In a desperate need to bridge the UK’s growing skills gaps, there is an increased appetite to collaborate. The responsibility for upskilling and progressing the nation’s workforce is a duty that falls on both educators and employers – and by working together, they can effectively blur the lines between academia and the working world and ensure the next generation of learners have the knowledge and skills they need for industry life.