Bleak future for the low-skilled.

Sep 16 2002 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The UK’s six million-strong pool of low-skilled and unqualified workers face increasingly bleak employment prospects according to the annual Employment Trends Survey carried out by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Mercer HR Consulting.

The survey points towards a “massive fall in demand” as 29 percent of firms indicate that they intend to recruit fewer unqualified workers over the coming three years.

Meanwhile, almost half of employers are planning to recruit more people qualified to degree level over the next three years while 30 percent claim that skills shortages are damaging their business.

The survey also highlights the failure of the state education system to teach even basic workplace skills to school leavers. Some 23 percent of employers complained about the levels of numeracy and literacy in school leavers, and as a result business is investing £23.5 billion in filling the skills gaps.

”The knowledge economy is putting management and workforce skills centre stage. This will increase because of less hierarchical organisations, technological change, greater public scrutiny and globalisation,” said Mark Edelsten, European partner at Mercer.

Covering 940 companies employing around 3.5 million people, the survey shows that UK firms also plan to extend performance-related pay and use higher levels of flexible working.

”The findings should be a wake up call to employers, employees, unions and the government.

”We must work together to prepare people for the inescapable realities of the modern labour market,’ said John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general.