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ERIC Number: EJ871042
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0955-2308
The Skills Paradox
Burks, Beatrice Karol; Reeves, Richard
Adults Learning, v20 n5 p12-14 Jan 2009
Despite a vocal commitment to fairness, the British Government has, according to these authors, wholeheartedly failed to live up to this pledge when it comes to skills and adult training. A report on adult learning released in December by Demos found a system rife with inequality and contradictions. As the jobs market becomes increasingly competitive, adults with poor basic skills will suffer most. The paradox at the heart of the issue is that the least skilled employees are also the least likely to receive training. Forty percent of university graduates receive some kind of training each year, compared to just one in 10 workers with no qualifications. It is a paradox that threatens to turn the UK into an "hourglass economy", with adaptable, mobile and prosperous workers at the top and those who lack formal training, and, therefore, opportunities, trapped at the bottom--in short, a workforce ill-prepared to ride out the deepening recession. Empowering individuals through training and giving them the information to make tailored choices about their training is one way to ensure a focused and motivated workforce which creates as well as takes advantage of new opportunities. The authors contend that to enable employees to take their learning into their owns hands, the creation of individual learning budgets should be at the top of the Government's list of priorities. At the moment, the training system finds it hard to respond to people's learning needs. Job specific training and subsidising individual firms is a dangerous strategy that "picks winners" at the expense of a level playing-field for business and innovation. A responsive training system must locate decision-making power with individuals, allowing them to make their own decisions with the right advice and support on how to spend the money available to them for their own training as they continue on their personal career paths. Jobs are evolving as well as disappearing and to weather the storm Britain must forge a workforce that is flexible and resilient, with both specialised and transferable skills, ready to adapt for the future and come out of the recession altogether stronger. The market does not ensure a skilled population, but skilled workers can help the market.
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. Renaissance House, 20 Princess Road West, Leicester, LE1 6TP, UK. Tel: +44-1162-044200; Fax: +44-1162-044262; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom