Published Tuesday 15th October 2019

At the recent Conservative Party Conference, the current UK government outlined a selection of plans for the country’s future. While much of the attention was on Brexit, there were also pledges made towards education. One of the most notable announcements by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was a planned £120 million outlined to open an Institute of Technology in every part of the country.

One of UK plc’s most pressing concerns beyond Brexit has been the ongoing productivity puzzle, particularly when the country attempts to compete on a more global stage. As a country that domestically appears to produce at a slower rate than its competitors, a realignment of the role that our education system plays could be a positive step forward.

Understanding the Skill Gap in UK Business

Many potential answers have been cited for the national productivity crisis. In recent years, Brexit uncertainty has been seen as a critical factor, as companies turn to medium-term labour as opposed to long-term infrastructure investments. Record-low unemployment percentages have evidenced this decision, along with the UK’s prolonged investment decreases recently reported. However, statistics show that domestic output was on the decline long before Brexit, with the issue dating back to the financial crisis of 2008.

During the last ten years, many people have pointed to the education sector as the potential cause and possible solution to long-term productivity in the UK. A recent report into digital skills by the Open University found that 88% of British businesses believe they lack digital skills, impacting their productivity and efficiency. As we enter an increasingly competitive and digital future, these skills are going to become more critical as Britain seeks to enter the global market.

A New Approach to UK Education

A need for more skilled workers, not just in the future but today, has led to a national movement towards more unorthodox learning. The same study found that 85% of senior leaders believed lifelong education would be necessary for the future, as job markets rapidly change with technological developments. 41% of employers have noticed increased productivity by those who had upskilled, evidence that this could be a big step towards fixing the aforementioned puzzle.

There appears to be a growing desire from the current UK government to make education more skills-focused, flexible and accessible. T Levels will start in September 2020, positioned as “high-quality, technical equivalents to A-levels”. During the Conservative Party Conference, Gavin Williamson described the Institute of Technologies as places that could provide high-level technical skills “that are most needed in their local economies”.

Supporting Education Services

It appears through these measures that the government are looking beyond the traditionally expected model of UK education. By ensuring that the right training is available for all ages, particularly in the locations that need it most, businesses can start working to a more productive future.

Some of these measurements should be viewed with an element of caution, given the uncertain nature of Brexit and UK politics as a whole. However, there is a growing feeling across multiple groups regarding the need to upgrade the UK’s wider education offering for the benefit of British business.

Unfortunately, the reality for many schools remains that recent cuts make providing the best service a consistent struggle, something particularly prevalent in traditional primary and secondary schools. As UK schools suffer a continued lack of funding, the whole system must be supported, so the UK has the foundation to compete globally in the future.

Here at Expense Reduction Analysts, we’ve been helping a range of UK education systems reduce their outgoings through effective supply chain management. Our school cost reduction services are designed with the delicate nature of education industries in mind. You’ll only be charged if we make savings, and any costs will only come from the money you would have previously spent. If you’re interested in seeing what we could do for you, why not discover our previous case studies or get in contact with our friendly team?