8 May 2014
In his speech at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) Work Foundation Skills Conference on 3 March, Matthew Hancock, the Minister for Skills and Enterprise, referred to a report that has been produced by the management consultancy firm McKinsey entitled Education To Employment.
This report highlights two global crises: (1) The high level of youth unemployment, and (2) A shortage of people with critical job skills.
Not only is this poor for businesses, it also causes social and economic distress and tensions. Action needs to be taken now to bridge the gap between education and employment. Much is reported in the media about there being no jobs and the high number of unemployed, however, this report shines a spotlight on the paradoxical situation facing businesses; vacancies are there but companies are not able to find the right people with the right skills.
So what is a company to do? Well, it would seem a lot more, both in terms of engaging with local schools and colleges to better enlighten teachers, careers advisers, pupils and parents about what skills a company looks for and showing the vast array of opportunities that are out there. A company needs also to look at its own approach and attitude towards training and developing its staff. Does it see the training budget as a cost or an investment? Does it have a reluctance to invest in training just in case a person leaves; as the saying goes, "What if you don't train and that person stays"?
The advancement of technology has enabled a fast pace of change within the workplace, where the ability to be agile and flexible is key to maintaining an organisation's position within the marketplace and is absolutely essential if a business is to grow. But is the school curriculum able to adapt in response to the changing demands of business? The Office for Economic Co-operation and Development adult skills survey, 'The Survey of Adult Skills', is an international survey conducted in 33 nations as part of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). This survey surmises that in most countries the younger generation have better literacy and numeracy than the older generation - but not so in the UK, where the generation that grew up with Twiggy did better than the generation that grew up with Twitter; a sad indictment of the UK education system.
Things need to change to avoid further generations of people ill-equipped for the workplace. As parents and grandparents, we must be more questioning of the education system; to accept "that's the way it is" should not be an acceptable response, as the results of the survey demonstrate.
Employers have taken steps to address this skills crisis by the creation of FM Professional Standards, which were launched in February. These are being used by organisations in the UK and globally as a benchmark of the competency required of people during their career in FM.
Linda Hausmanis, head of Professional Standards and Education at BIFM