The skills gap

A recent report by the National Centre for Universities and Business identified the growing gap between the skills taught in the education system in Britain and those actually required by the job market.

Titled Talent 2050: Engineering Skills and Education for the Future, the report examines the ways in which the rate of technological innovation is causing the workplace to change more rapidly than the education system, leaving a crucial gap in skilled workers. This gap will need to be addressed by the time the children enter education in 2030 if we want to properly prepare the next generation for the jobs of the future.

The paper argues that while government STEM strategies have been successful in developing science and technology skills, valuable, practical engineering experience is being left behind. So-called ‘soft skills’ such as creative thinking and communication will be the key areas of development for the education system, as these are the skills that are thought to be most valuable in the workplace of the future.

The paper highlights how the rate of change in technology and the workplace currently far out-paces that of government policy, a problem it says can be solved by improving communication between the disparate government bodies responsible for education. Furthermore, it points out that schools should be embracing technology, such as smart phones, to connect with and empower students, rather than banning and maligning the use of tech.

The teaching and implementation of these skills in the future will enable a more innovative and productive workplace with more autonomous and adaptable employees – outcomes desirable for employee and employer alike. The job market today is a very different place to how it was 30 years ago – and, with the advent of AI and further automation, it will be very different 30 years in the future.

The idea of having a ‘job for life’ is quickly becoming outdated as the ease of access to information is reducing the need for specialists and actively empowering people to become multi-disciplined individuals. AI and automated processes currently out-perform humans in a number of narrow, specialist functions such as part assembly and image detection. However, multi-process, lateral-thinking intensive skills such as design, engineering, and communication are still better performed by the humble (and infinitely adaptable) Homo Sapiens – and these are the skills that will become the most valuable in what many think will be an AI-dominated workplace of the future.

This broadening of academic requirements has arrived at Polestar, we try to take note of industry trends such as these. Whereas in the past preferred employees would have had numerate and finance-related degrees, we are now much more open to candidates who have a different academic background. In the era of the internet, most information is a simple Google search away, and we have seen that interpersonal skills and analytical thinking can often be the difference between a successful candidate and an unsuccessful one. 

For Britain to compete globally in the middle of this century it needs high level engineering skills within a diverse workforce, ready to lead through unprecedented disruption and global competition

By Rebecca Garland on 21/08/2019