Up to the Job

Following a lengthy recession, the UK economy is now growing steadily. But a return to growth supported chiefly by debt-fuelled consumer spending has led to the question: what is this recovery for? Despite the good economic news, the UK still has stubbornly high levels of youth unemployment and is losing the ‘global race’ in labour productivity, bringing up the rear among comparable developed economies.

This report recommends radically boosting apprenticeship numbers as the solution to these three ills. It suggests that businesses draw on their reserves to invest in their human capital, thereby helping young people into work and increasing their own and the country as a whole’s productivity. It calculates that if the UK were to skill up its population to match its leading competitors, it could add an extra £4bn to GDP. It also provides a detailed picture of the state of apprenticeships in the UK, including the sectoral, regional and gender breakdown.

Up to the Job makes recommendations that work with the grain of business thinking, in the context of a period of fiscal consolidation. It advises a shake-up of the Youth Contract, instead suggesting the Government route funding through bodies that employers are familiar with and trust. It also recommends that schools are held accountable for the future employability of their pupils. Overall, it envisions a sustained recovery towards a more productive economy, supported by a step change in apprenticeships.