Media comment: The UK must wean itself off its dependence on lower-skilled workers

20 September 2021

Dear Editor, 

I have read with great interest the latest results of the CBI’s latest annual survey. However, I disagree with the premise that making it easier for businesses to fill short-term vacancies is the magical solution to our problems. 

According to our 2020 Mind the Skills Gap research, over two thirds (66%) of UK employees have had no training or professional development in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many companies to change how they do business. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly worsened the UK’s employability skills gap, enough to potentially hinder our long-term recovery and ability to compete on the world stage. The situation has also been made worse by Brexit as employers lost access to the EU-wide talent pool.

If we are to deliver a lasting economic recovery, ensure greater business resilience, and drive sustainable growth, we must outline a longer-term strategy to tackle structural issues that risk holding the UK back, such as our widening skills gap and woeful productivity record. We must accelerate our commitment to stimulate business innovation and shift to a greener economy, but most importantly, we must ensure that we invest in our people and equip them with the right skills to support this shift and build a stronger future. The Government is driving investment with increased capital allowances, we need a skilled workforce to secure those benefits.

Relying on an influx of lower-skilled workers to solve this problem will further exacerbate Britain’s productivity failings and hold back growth.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA
Chief Executive — Management Accounting
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants