Young people are lagging well behind their peers in Europe when it comes to core skills, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) claims, causing the UK to “sleepwalk into a low-value economy”.
Analysis from the institute found that 16-24 year olds from England and Northern Ireland are ranked in the bottom four OECD countries for numeracy and literacy skills.
The UK’s young people also came in last when the computer problem-solving skills of 16-24 year olds in 19 countries were assessed.
CIPD skills adviser Lizzy Crowley said the report, which was written in response to the government’s industrial strategy green paper, must act as a “real wake-up call” to “break with the past two decades of failed skills policy”.
She said: “As we move towards Brexit, and possible restrictions on overseas talent, it’s crucial that government works in partnership with education providers and businesses to address these deep-rooted issues that continue to blight individual and business potential.”
The report found that the UK spends less on training than other major EU economies.
While the average training cost per employee across the EU was €511 (£427) in 2010, it was just €266 (£222) in the UK.
The CIPD has called on the government to put skills “at the heart of industrial strategy” and to reframe the apprenticeship levy as a training levy to make it more flexible for employers.
Crowley continued: “We can either take the high road as a nation, with government, employers, education and business support groups working in partnership to boost investment in skills and create more high-value, high-productivity workplaces.
“Or, we can keep doing what we’ve always done and get the same mediocre results.”
She added: “The government should seize this moment to raise the ambitions of the UK.”