Responding to the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2017 report published this week, which shows vocational programmes are less popular among young upper secondary students in the United Kingdom when compared to most other OECD countries, Melanie Richards, Vice Chair of KPMG in the UK said:
“It is concerning to see the UK lagging behind on both uptake and funding of vocational programmes. While an increasing number of businesses are placing technical education at the heart of their recruitment strategies, it is clear that more needs to be done to show the value of non-traditional routes into employment.
“The ongoing uncertainty around Brexit presents more challenges for British businesses already struggling to recruit and retain the talent they need to succeed. Our latest research found that up to one million EU nationals in the UK are already thinking of returning home. If this country is to remain competitive on the global stage post-Brexit, we need to set about closing the skills gap, rather than see it widen further.
“To do this, we need to ensure talented people from every section of our society have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, no matter their background. This means businesses of all sizes and sectors need to be thinking creatively about how we fill our talent pipelines – and that includes vocational programmes such as apprenticeships.
“Over the last three years KPMG’s apprenticeship schemes have become an increasingly important part of our recruitment strategy – with 2017 seeing a 40% rise in the number of apprentices coming into our business. A central component of expanding our schemes involves making different locations – such as Southampton, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and Cambridge – available to our apprentices, ensuring we are able to access previously untapped talent pools around the country.
“Many businesses are already working alongside government and their local communities to develop non-traditional routes into employment. But there is undoubtedly more we can – and will – do to broaden the scope and ambition of our work and encourage more employers to come together and collaborate to generate systemic change.”