15 October 2020
Comments by the OECD in The Times about the UK’s economic trajectory clearly highlight the challenges lying ahead to address some of our country’s underlying structural issues and vulnerabilities. The UK Government has put strong emphasis on tackling short-term issues, but is yet to devise a long-term recovery strategy to tackle long-standing challenges exacerbated by the pandemic such as our faltering productivity and widening skills gap.
Worryingly, CIMA’s research in 2019 revealed that 37% of UK workers didn’t feel that they need to learn new skills despite a growing awareness of the impact of technology on jobs. This complacency towards learning and development was a nagging issue prior to the coronavirus crisis but has now become an acute problem for UK businesses and could hamper recovery. Additional CIMA research highlighted that 37% of businesses asked their employees to take on new responsibilities and expand their skillset as they adapted their business and operating models to the new, rapidly changing business environment. In the face of the biggest economic hurdle in decades, having the right skills isn’t just “a nice to have” for businesses – it is essential to survive and grow.
If we are to get the economy back on its feet, remain competitive on the global scene and sustain growth, 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 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; ensuring that we don’t miss the opportunity to reskill and retrain those who are unable to work and receiving the new Job Support Scheme money so they can bring new skills to the workforce when their companies can operate again; and introducing a rebuttable right to retrain to empower workers to request further training and development.
Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA
Chief Executive — Management Accounting
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants