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Mind the Skills Gap Campaign

What is the Mind the Skills Gap campaign?

We know how much disappointment and frustration there was following the lack of additional investment for the sector in the autumn statement, and we shared members’ eagerness to channel that energy into action. That’s why we’ve launched the ‘Mind the Skills Gap’ campaign.

This is a series of campaigning activities hosted by the Association of Colleges, Association of Employment & Learning Providers and City & Guilds under the banner of the Future Skills Coalition.

The campaign aims to highlight to parliamentarians, Government and other key decision makers that without further investment in further education we will not be able to fill the skills gaps in key areas of the economy and deliver the labour market the country needs.

With a General Election on the horizon and parties thinking about their manifestos, it’s vital we continue to make the case that investing in skills is not only the right thing to do, but it also delivers a return on investment for the Exchequer.

This is just the beginning – we’ll be planning and sharing more information on further ‘Mind the Skills Gap’ campaign actions in the months ahead.

Mind the Skills Gap key messages

Too many people can't get the job they want because they don't have the skills they need.

The scale of the skills shortages challenge we face
  • There are significant skills shortages across the economy as a result of rising health needs, the net zero transition and economic change. And meanwhile the supply of people with skills has been disrupted by post-Brexit immigration changes and the knock-on effect of the Covid pandemic.
  • A joint report from the Open University and British Chambers of Commerce (2022) identified the skills crisis already facing employers, finding that almost three-quarters (72%) of organisations say the impact of skills shortages is causing increased workload on other staff, while 78% are seeing reduced output, profitability, or growth.
  • The report found that more than two-thirds (68%) of SMEs are currently facing skills shortages, rising to 86% in large organisations, while 28% of businesses say they have had to turn down work or are not able to bid for work due to their staff shortage.
Colleges are the key to addressing these skills shortages
  • Local labour markets rely on the jobs which colleges help deliver year in year out, through training young and older people alike.
  • All the industries where skills shortages are being felt most acutely are serviced by level 4/5 skills and qualifications which are delivered in further education colleges.
But more investment in skills is needed
  • A growing economy needs ongoing investment in skills, for jobs today and to be agile as job needs change. Sadly, that investment is lacking in our country - post-16 education funding is way behind what is needed to boost economic growth. This is hampering growth.
  • Investing in skills gives instant and long-term returns through higher productivity, helping employers find and develop productive workers and in turn delivering higher wages.
  • Without additional investment in further education and skills, we will not be able to fill these skills shortages in key priority areas of the economy and deliver the labour market the country needs.
Colleges are ready to play their part
  • Colleges are ready to play their part in the Government’s plans to grow the economy, but they need the investment to be able to do that after 12-years of declining funding for adults and young people alike.

In order to address this, the Future Skills Coalition is calling for:

  • A right to lifelong learning free from restrictive constraints – that would help reverse the historic and damaging decline in the number of adults upskilling, retraining and filling vacancies in key skills shortage areas.
  • Fair, accessible and effective funding – to ensure colleges have the resources to recruit the staff needed to teach subjects in key skills shortage areas.
  • A national strategy to support local, inclusive growth – that would support colleges to meet skills shortages in their local economies.