For the past several years, countless people from across businesses, industry, politics and media have been jumping up and down and pointing at the growing skills gap in the UK's workforce.
A vivid and ugly picture of the status quo has been painted. It is clear now that there just isn't the manpower to capitalise on the potential areas for growth, particularly in creative and technical industries. Upon closer inspection, the skills gap looks more like a skills chasm.
Nonetheless, the years of warnings (and the clear-cut evidence) of a canyon-like hole in the UK workforce capability have finally impelled a turning of the cogs of governmental action.
The output of this comes from the Creative Industries Council (CIC), consisting of representatives from government and the creative sector. Their Creative Industries Sector Deal announces a plethora of new funding and measures to encourage a budding area British industry and to help address the skills crevasse.
Albeit tardily, the CIC have identified the areas of concern and outlined a range of solutions which tackle the issue now and for future generations. It's rather good, in fact.
For a start, the Sector Deal promises to get real about apprenticeships. Hundreds of millions of pounds are earmarked for the creation and expansion of apprenticeship schemes and the further development of vocational T-levels. If administered correctly, this will ensure any closing of the skills gap is maintained for future generations. What's more, these training schemes seek to work more closely with industry to ensure that those coming out of tertiary education are really equipped to work in the fields they study for. The consensus on academic degrees is clear: a BA in marketing does not a marketer make.
Within the industry itself, emphasis has been placed on the importance of re-skilling. Historically, support for those who want to take a gamble at a career move hasn't been there. The newly-created Voluntary Skills Investment Fund hopes to encourage people to consider working in IT, digital, marketing and engineering.
Addressing the London-centric nature of industry is also an aim of the Sector Deal. Plans are afoot for the development of digital and physical infrastructure, the establishment of ‘creative clusters' and implementation of new Local Industrial Strategies. These hope to provide investment, training and support to businesses in areas that don't benefit from being a massive metropolis.
The Direct Marketing Association and its training arm, the Institute of Direct Marketing, will seek to work closely on the delivery of the Sector Deal in a number of ways. The membership spans the length and breadth of British business and the country, meaning we are ideally placed to execute the development and execution of industry-led apprenticeships. Similarly, the DMA is developing schemes for school students to help them get the vocational experience and skills that have been proven to do wonders for future employability.
All in all, this is a welcomed prescription to help close the skills gap in the British workforce. Nonetheless, it is only one footbridge over the ravine. Building that motorway bridge will take a lot more time and money, not to mention a resistance to post-Brexit brain drain or economic slumps. At the very least, we now have the foundations on which to build.
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