Educating more people at university could bring significant benefits to the UK economy as the Fourth Industrial Revolution increases future demand for higher level skills.
The onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and digital technology – and challenges of Brexit and an ageing population are creating rising demand for those with qualifications above Level 4 (HNC/Ds, foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees). This report looks at the rapid pace of change and increasing complexity of work, and highlights the need for continual skill upgrading, lifelong learning and study of higher education qualifications at all levels.
The report reveals that:
- In 2016, 440,000 new professional jobs were created, yet there were only 316,690 first-degree UK-based graduates, leaving a recruitment gap of 123,310, more than double the gap in 2015.
- 65% of children entering primary schools today will ultimately work in new jobs and functions that don’t currently exist.
- Nearly 50% of the subject knowledge acquired during the first year of a four-year technical degree is outdated by the time students graduate.
- Employers have told CBI that they expect the greatest demand for skills over the next three to five years will be for people with higher level skills where there is already a much higher employment rate.
- By 2030, it is estimated that there will be a UK talent deficit of between 600,000 to 1.2 million workers for both our financial and business sector, and technology, media and telecommunications sector.
- Universities provide many professional and technical qualifications, estimated at around 41% of overall provision.
In order to develop specific policy recommendations to meet the challenges outlined above, Universities UK will be undertaking a range of research projects and activities over the coming months, including the following:
The economic case for flexible learning – this project, undertaken in conjunction with the CBI, will look specifically at how the government can encourage learning that is more flexible, and support people to study at different times in their lives.
High-level skills through effective partnerships and pathways – this work will consider how partnerships between higher education and further education providers are meeting the local skills needs of businesses and how the policy environment can help promote and enhance these partnerships.
Integrating higher level skills and adopting a ‘whole- skills’ approach to local industrial strategies and skills advisory boards – we will be developing advice and guidance based on practical examples to support the development of effective skills strategies and partnerships at the local level.
Technical and professional education – this project looks at developing effective links, pathways and bridging provision to ensure effective opportunities for learners and employers.
Enhancing intelligence on employer needs – this collaborative project aims to ensure a detailed analysis is undertaken of the Employer skills survey to provide intelligence for universities, employers and policymakers.