Upskilling for All: no one left behind
Business in the Community (BITC) is collaborating with Phoenix Group, the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business, and BITC member, on a project that will enable employers to equip every employee with the knowledge, support and motivation to participate in upskilling opportunities. Ultimately, we want to support those in low-skilled, low-paid roles to progress at work and advance their social mobility. As part of the project, BITC commissioned a YouGov survey to help build a comprehensive picture of the extent to which low-skilled workers feel motivated and supported to upskill. This factsheet provides a summary of those findings.
Our research found that workers in lower-skilled roles participate in far fewer skills development opportunities than their higher-skilled colleagues. For instance, two-thirds of lower-skilled employees have had no company-funded development opportunities in the past two years compared to 38% of higher-skilled workers.
The impact of employer actions on motivation to upskill
Why are lower-skilled employees not participating in learning and development opportunities at the same rate as their higher-skilled colleagues?
One reason may be a lack of motive as opposed to opportunity. The YouGov survey found that lower-skilled employees are less likely to want to develop skills or progress their careers in the short term than their higher-skilled colleagues.
Unequal access to development opportunities
Regardless of how motivated an individual is to learn, skills development is most likely to occur when opportunities are presented.
The research found that career progression is important to a much smaller percentage of lower-skilled workers than their higher-skilled peers (25% vs 60%). However, we also asked respondents how they felt about their current job and the opportunities available to them in that role. The research found that, compared to higher-skilled employees, lower-skilled workers are:
- less likely to feel that their current job makes good use of their skills and abilities (55% vs 76%)
- less knowledgeable about the new skills they need to progress in their career (48% vs 70%)
- less likely to have been encouraged to gain new skills for more senior roles (26% vs 57%), and
- less likely to believe that they have an equal opportunity to advance within their current organisation (45% vs 66%).
The research was commissioned as one strand of a broader project seeking to identify solutions that will enable businesses to support their lower-skilled, lower-paid workers better to participate in skills development opportunities. A final report will be published in the summer of 2023.
- Read our blog by Kate Carr, Employment & Skills Manager, Business in the Community (BITC) on the importance of upskilling lower-skilled and lower-paid workers.
- If you are a BITC member, you can join the series of events where we will seek to identify ways employers can better equip their low-skilled workers to upskill and progress in their professional careers.
- If you are not yet a member, join BITC to help us create a skilled and inclusive workforce.
- All statistics referenced above are from the BITC-commissioned YouGov skills survey, March 2023.
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