William Eichler 17 July 2018

South East councils call for powers to tackle skills shortage

Local authorities have called for greater powers to help address the skills shortage as a new report shows that nearly all job opportunities will soon be closed to people without qualifications.

A new study into the skills shortage, co-published by South East England Councils (SEEC), found that by 2024 only 1% of South East jobs are expected to be filled by workers with no qualifications — down from 8.8% in 2004.

The report, co-published with research specialist Shared Intelligence, also calculated that by 2024 48.5% of jobs will need at least a foundation degree — up from 27.9% in 2004.

Only 8.5% of the South East’s 47,000 apprenticeships offer degree-level qualifications despite the rising demand from employers for more skills.

The proportion of South East residents training for NVQ level 2 qualifications has fallen by 57% since 2011-12, and half the South East residents without qualifications (49%) are unemployed.

‘The South East is the golden goose of the UK economy, contributing a net £154bn to the Treasury from 2000-16 – the UK’s highest – and to sustain this we need skills,’ said SEEC chairman Cllr Roy Perry.

‘Local authorities can help deliver better skills but we need greater powers to do this – for example the ability to direct skills funding to meet local needs and to encourage students to take up engineering and science.’

SEEC deputy chairman Cllr Ralph Bagge added: ‘Councils can play an important role in making sure our residents are well-placed to take advantage of local job opportunities.

‘We know skills will be increasingly important, so we would like to explore additional ways that councils could help incentivise people to gain qualifications that will get them into work.’

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