Focusing on lifelong learning is key to tackling skills shortages


Official statistics tell us what we already know to be true: there are fewer people with the skills we need for the jobs we have. UK labor market figures show unemployment has fallen to levels not seen since the mid-1970s. According to the Office for National Statistics, rising economic inactivity – the reason for low levels of unemployment – is due to poor health and the exodus of workers aged 50-64.

Analysts say the fall in unemployment from 3.8% to 3.6% from May to July 2022 – its lowest level since 1974 – shows signs that the labor market is losing momentum and that the market tightening of labor could lead to other inflation-related factors. pay claims, worsening the cost of living crisis.

Against this backdrop, it’s easy to see why many HR professionals share a growing concern about recruiting quality, highly qualified candidates. However, all HR professionals need to do is look to UK higher education institutions that consistently produce well-educated and well-rounded graduates who are ‘job-ready’.

Understanding Continuing Education

It is incumbent on HR professionals around the world to understand and appreciate the knowledge and skills possessed by people with Level 4/5 qualifications. Continuing education includes post-secondary education and studies (level 4/5) distinct from higher education (level 6) provided in universities and other educational establishments. Level 4/5 refers to a certain level of skills, including qualifications such as apprenticeship, technical education, HNCs, foundation degrees and the first two years of an undergraduate degree.

Level 4/5 qualifications are important because they help people whose highest qualification is Level 3 (A-level, T-level or BTEC) to develop their skills and increase their employability. As the UK job market changes – largely due to technological advancements – many people will need to retrain and/or upskill.

Across the UK, skills shortages are most acutely felt in industries served by Level 4/5 skills and qualifications, including engineering, construction, digital, health and social services. Invariably, it is practical skills, taught at a very high level, that ensure job readiness and effectiveness on the job.

The Collab Group’s research among its member colleges shows that these colleges have qualified teachers who teach “in-demand” skills according to industry standards. They also offer smaller than average class sizes, which increases direct instruction time and access to specialized materials, which leads to better results. Additionally, they tend to recruit locally and provide a more supportive learning environment, which means learners get what they need, when they need it, and are more likely to graduate. .

All of this leads to a rich educational and social experience that helps learners develop the essential human skills needed in the rapidly changing future world of work. These colleges play a vital role in addressing the current and future skills shortage and developing a rich pool of talent from which HR professionals can choose.

How can HR access this talent pool?

In addition to understanding the skills and knowledge acquired through continuing education, HR professionals must reject the existing narrative that universities produce the best graduates and the most promising future employees.

Higher education institutions provide learners with a rich and diverse experience that equips people with the knowledge, skills and experiences needed to succeed in the future world of work. They also offer the right solutions for the UK’s current and impending skills and economic growth challenges.

It is also essential for HR professionals to negotiate and build relationships with UK colleges. This will allow them direct access to a large pool of rich talent and build a talent pool that meets both short and long-term recruitment needs.

Ian Pretty is Managing Director of Collab Group


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