FDs fear UK skills base may weaken economy

Four out of 10 finance directors have concerns over the level of skills available in the UK workforce, and worry that it could have a detrimental effect on the economy, according to an exclusive survey.

This week’s Accountancy Age/Reed Accountancy Big Question asked those surveyed whether they were confident that there were sufficient basic skills within the country’s workforce to enable the economy to grow. It found that 40% felt skill levels were not up to scratch.

‘The process of “dumbing down” and the devaluing of school qualifications for political ends has taken its toll,’ complained one FD. ‘Basic skills of literacy and numeracy are not sufficiently spread within the workforce to provide a solid base for building further capabilities and growing the economy.’

‘This is quite a conundrum,’ said another. ‘Younger people appear to be leaving further education with more and more qualifications each year, but the general level of numeracy and literacy seems to be worsening.’

Others were also concerned that our education system does not prepare students for the reality of the working world. ‘Bearing in mind that we consider ourselves one of the business forces in the western world, there is no emphasis on making it compulsory to teach upcoming generations any other language,’ said one respondent. ‘So arrogant are we that we contact people in other parts of the world and expect them to speak English.’

However, these views were balanced by a similar number, with 39% claiming they were happy with skills levels available and that workforce entrants may expect too much at first.

‘Without wishing to deny folk the opportunity to better themselves, there is often a problem in recruiting staff who are happy to carry out routine and painstaking duties,’ said one FD.

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