Tackling the skills gap with the failed generation

Tackling the skills gap with the failed generation

1 in 8 young Birmingham citizens aged 16-19 have no qualifications, according to research in the Birmingham Skills Investment Plan: 2016 to 2026. On average, 50% of pupils leaving secondary school fail to achieve a grade in maths or English.

Local councils, primary and secondary schools have a shared vision: to give each and every one of its young citizens the start in life they deserve to go on and achieve their full potential.

But local authorities up and down the country have seen their core funding allocation severely impacted by the UK Government’s programme of austerity: brought about by the poor economic climate.

It has left council leaders, cabinet ministers and chief executives having to make some very tough decisions, particularly when it comes to deciding the public services they should prioritise and those they should reduce.

Core services, such as social care, education, homelessness prevention and adult care have become financially hamstrung. Providing the necessary resources and skilled manpower needed to support troubled or disadvantaged families in their community: has become significantly challenging.

As a consequence, a situation has now arisen whereby a large proportion of young people, particularly from deprived backgrounds, are leaving education without the employability skills required to enter an apprenticeship scheme or employment.

Birmingham’s situation in numbers:

  • 1 in 8 young people aged 16-19 have no qualifications*
  • 37% of people aged 16-24 year olds are in employment, compared to the national average of 51%*
  • 7.2% of 16-18 year olds are classed as NEET, above the national average of 4.7%*
  • 50% of pupils leaving secondary school will fail to achieve a grade in maths or English
  • The city could miss out on 25% of growth by not investing in skills*
  • The number of jobs accessible to people without qualifications will fall by 42% by 2022**
  • On average, disadvantaged children across England remain 19 months behind their more advantaged peers by key stage 4***

Source: * Birmingham Skills Investment Plan: 2016 to 2026. ** c. *** DfE Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential December 2017.

We highlighted in our recent blog – Facing up to Birmingham’s construction sector skills crisis – that Birmingham’s construction industry is facing a skills shortage meltdown and will need to fill 80,000 new highly skilled positions by 2022 – 65,000 alone for the build of HS2.

The construction industry can address this high employment need with a particular focus on 16-19 year old school leavers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

At M. Lambe Construction, we believe in young people’s ability. Our apprenticeship scheme seeks to develop the business leaders of tomorrow by attracting energetic ambitious young people to all departments, regardless of their background.

Our high-quality training and apprenticeship programmes provide young job seekers with the practical experience and skills needed to pursue a full-time career in the construction industry. We also help them develop their social, literacy and numeracy skills, leading to confidence and self-esteem.

But we can’t do it alone. The industry needs to start taking action to get a grip of the skills shortage. We need to do more to attract young people in to the industry; without them we are going to struggle to find the manpower to deliver the new homes and create the infrastructure needed to satisfy our growing population.