Train in what employers need, not what employees like

According to a report by the OECD – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – and the University of Warwick Institute for Employment Research: “Many employees say their skills are not used effectively at work”

Encouraging employers  to make the most of their employees’ skills can improve productivity, reduce inequality and contribute to economic growth

In particular, they claim matching skills to jobs boosts happiness, productivity and innovation:

  • Better use of existing skills in-house leads to better job satisfaction and pay for the skill-holders than for those whose skills are not stretched
  • Better matching of skills to those needed by specific jobs improves retention of workers. higher productivity and better industrial relations
  • So better understanding of and publicity for the skills employers need is vital to boost productivity and economic growth

But which organisations truly test how well they’re using their skills in-house – or which they have been developing, sometimes over many years, albeit to what purpose?

We’re not talking about  ‘a re-organisation of work-forces here – more the more productive use of existing work-forces and even more if more people with the right skills were available

To date, governments have focused on a shot-gun approach to the education of workers and encouraged youngsters to up-skill themselves, regardless of ‘what in’ – and universities, business schools, technical colleges et alia have followed suit

Hence, thousands of new graduates, for example, now find themselves shelf-stacking or selling burgers whilst lumbered with huge student loan debts

Meanwhile, potential supply of goods or services is lost, and demand is met by others abroad – sales, profits, job numbers and pay levels suffer – all for the lack of skills that could easily be provided

Clearly, better use of existing skills will improve outcomes for individuals, employers and economies – but how much better might things be if youngsters were nudged towards those skills that employers need

To do this well, vital statistics are needed to tell us where major skills gaps lie – statistics which quantify current numbers of mathematicians v engineers v doctors v plumbers v cooks v carers that the nation has versus needs

Government, educators and employers should then get together to plan how best to close these gaps, including considering financial incentives for skills employers need

At the same time, training in subjects that qualify only as tickets for a three/ four year fun-ride at some obscure university should remain prohibitively expensive, if not become more so




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