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Media comment: Equipping our workforce for tomorrow’s recovery

14 August 2020

Dear editor,

The U.K. doesn’t have strong track-record when it comes to investing in skills, and higher-level skills in particular. This was a nagging issue long before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and it has now become an acute problem for UK businesses, which could hamper our country’s long-term recovery. 

In the face of the biggest economic recession in decades with GDP having its biggest fall on record and rising unemployment levels, we must put a greater emphasis on investing in skills to help generate economic growth and tackle the long-term challenges this crisis has only exacerbated (e.g. low productivity, high dependency on low-skill service sector jobs, regional imbalance, and weak social mobility). To achieve this, we need to better support all workers to reskill and upskill throughout their careers and encourage them to now start adapting their skillsets to the post-pandemic ways of working. 

This means that we need to adapt our education and training systems to ensure that we equip our workforce with the skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s workplace. This includes:

  • changing the Apprenticeship Levy to an Apprenticeship and Skills Levy for all workers to ensure businesses have the talent they need now and in the future;
  • continuing to invest towards higher level apprenticeships to raise the skill levels of the UK workforce, meet the demands of the economy and encourage social mobility; and
  • introducing a rebuttable right to retrain to empower workers to request further training and development.

If we are to overcome this crisis, and pay down our national debt without returning to austerity, we must invest in skills to increase productivity and drive growth. The country cannot afford to play the waiting game on this issue. 

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