Press release

Climbing the ladder: skills for sustainable recovery report published

New report calls for swift action to improve jobs and skills to maximise growth and build on the economic upturn.


A new report published today highlights the need for urgent action to improve the UK’s jobs and skills to build on the economic upturn and maximise growth.

The report, Climbing the ladder: skills for sustainable recovery, has been produced by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). It examines the skills challenges facing the UK economy and calls on businesses and organisations which provide education and training to work together to confront these issues.

The report draws on extensive UKCES research to give a comprehensive overview of the issues which could be restraining growth. It will be followed by a report in autumn outlining ways in which these challenges could be tackled.

Michael Davis, chief executive of UKCES said:

The UK’s economy is growing well, but even so we still have a way to go before we can demonstrate this growth is robust and sustainable. There’s a welcome recognition that this includes developing and using the skills of the workforce to power innovation, creativity and competitiveness. We hope that this report will give businesses and those who provide workforce training some insights and clarity around this complex issue.

The report finds that three rungs on the employment ladder need repairing in order to help people get in, get on and move up in work. It notes that:

  • On the bottom rung, young people struggle to get their first job. The recession amplified youth unemployment, but did not cause it. Many young people struggle to find opportunities – like work experience or Saturday jobs – which allow them to gain the vital experience they need to help move into the world of work.

  • On the middle rung, many of those already in work face problems moving up. The jobs market is increasingly hour-glass shaped, with fewer opportunities for those in low skill jobs to progress, and less talent to choose from for those recruiting for high skill jobs.

  • On the top rung, businesses are seeing increasing problems with skills shortages, whilst at the same time many employees have skills which are not used. This mismatch inhibits productivity and growth.

Douglas McCormick, UKCES Commissioner, added: > The UK has made very significant progress in tackling skills challenges, particularly around apprenticeships. But we must go further. This report identifies the challenges that need to be addressed to ensure we maximise growth, increase productivity and develop the skills and abilities of our workforce.

By acting now to tackle these problems in a collaborative way we can ensure workers and employees alike reap the benefits of economic upturn swiftly - making certain that today’s underlying issues do not become tomorrow’s insurmountable challenges.

Read the report in full.


Notes to editors:

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) works with industry and government to help achieve better outcomes in how people get in and on in work and how businesses succeed through the skills and talents of their people.

UKCES is a social partnership led by 30 Commissioners who are senior leaders of large and small enterprises, (including non-profits), further and higher education institutions from across the UK.

We believe that it is the talents and skills of people drive business competitiveness and economic growth. Our unique contribution and ability to create impact comes through the insights of Commissioners, our authoritative research and our approach of working with key industry sectors and wider networks of business leadership to galvanise action.

UKCES is funded by government as a UK non-departmental public body and Commissioners are appointed by ministers.

UKCES will publish a more detailed analysis of the specific skills challenges and the action that industry and government need to take to tackle these challenges for long term growth in autumn.

Photo above by Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons

Published 11 July 2014