News | Published March 12 2020

Audio Schemes’ skills focus reflects City and Guilds report

The issues with recruitment that firms face as a result of the UK skills shortfall are well-documented, yet a recent City & Guilds report has shone a new light on the issue: the lack of training to upskill workers who are already in employment.

The City & Guilds report, titled Missing Millions, polled 5,000 people of working age.

Its results showed that a third of those interviewed had received no workplace training over the last five years, while 15 per cent of the 5,000 had never received workplace training while in employment.

Based on the data, City & Guilds estimates that roughly 17.8 million people in the UK have an outdated skills set, and their potential contributions to society are lost as a result.

The report concludes that the economy is ‘ill-prepared’ for impending challenges from automation and globalisation as a result, and that adult education requires an “urgent” review.

Furthermore, the need for specialist skills in today’s job market has been stressed by Nick Langley, the founder of Stockport firm Audio Schemes.

Audio Schemes specialises in the technical skill of constructing and soundproofing studios for post-production, television and radio, having worked with household names such as Sony and Warner Bros.

Speaking to The Parliamentary Review about the skills set the Audio Schemes workforce requires, Langley said: “Making all of this great work possible is our staff of 15, who encompass many different talents. The team is comprised of a mechanical engineer, overseeing all ventilation and air conditioning work; two joiners, who undertake bespoke fabric fittings; and a number of dry liners who have served us for many years.”

However, as Langley stresses, the need for specialist skills in the industry is a matter of huge importance.

He said: “People with these specialist skills need to be trusted to use them as a collective. It’s a highly skilled sector – for instance, the process of learning to fabric line walls can take up to four years to become proficient in.

"Issues commonly arise during projects and the team need an intricate knowledge of their trade in order to rectify them. A completed soundproofed wall may look good to the eye but in terms of performance, it could still emit too much noise beyond the client request. For cases like these, there needs to be an understanding of what works and what doesn’t."

The outcomes of the Missing Millions report do not bode well for the future of technical skills and a solution is undoubtedly needed.

City & Guilds interim chief executive Kirstie Donnelly believes the government must shoulder the responsibility of helping to “reverse the decline of the lifelong learning sector”, by providing access to “critical skills development” for all adults, generating a new pool of talent for firms.

The City & Guilds report recommends reversing cuts to adult education, and highlights figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies which show that spending on apprenticeships and work-based training for adults has declined by around 25 per cent in real terms over the last ten years.

The report acknowledges that the government’s National Retraining Scheme shows promise, but in order to truly fix the underlying issues, it adds that “proper funding and resource directed at adult education to meet the upskilling and reskilling needs the UK will have in the decades to come” is required.

City & Guilds’ specific recommendation is for the government to entitle all adults to their first level two and three qualifications free of charge and provide an indicative adult education budget so further education providers can extensively plan for three-year periods.

The body also calls on employers to increase their investment in training and development.

The report reads: “We would urge organisations to look at all their workforce needs for the next five to ten years and invest in their employees at all levels to ensure the future success of their business.”

With possible solutions already earmarked, time will tell as to whether these solutions are pursued properly and whether they will reverse the trend.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
March 12 2020

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