While the UK has seen its number of vacancies grow by almost half in two years, employers are experiencing great difficulty recruiting skilled personnel. There also have never been as many highly qualified people in the UK.
This would suggest that a skills surplus should be apparent, rather than a shortage; yet this is not the case.
The question, then, is whether the required skills really do not exist, or whether current circumstances make it difficult to recognise and efficiently use existing skills.
The Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy seeks to examine whether their target of three million new apprentices by 2020 could close the skills gap. Our submission argues that the UK could use apprenticeships to eliminate skills shortages. To successfully do so, the government should aim for quality rather than quantity. Currently this is not what happens, as many apprentices are merely seen as a cheap labour force and leave their apprenticeships without new valuable skills and good job perspectives.
To create good quality apprenticeships, close collaboration between education and businesses is necessary. Furthermore, vocational training should be promoted as a valued alternative to university education and the UK could look at Germany and the Netherlands — apprenticeships are common in both — to see how these countries guarantee the quality of their apprenticeships.
The government should close the skills gap by looking at its current populations so that the workforce does not have to attract skilled migrants to fill open vacancies. While attracting skilled migrants may seem advantageous, it adds more people to an already overpopulated country and means that a part of the current population remains unemployed when this is unnecessary. The attempt to improve apprenticeships is therefore a step in the right direction.