• UK skill levels, as measured by qualifications, have improved considerably in recent years and are likely to continue to do so to 2020.The skill mix is becoming increasingly high skill orientated with the proportion of adults qualified to Level 4 and above nearly doubling over the years from 2002 to 2020. The proportion of adults not qualified to Level 2 halved over the same period. Nonetheless, in 2020, there are still likely to be nearly 7 million adults who are not qualified to Level 2.
  • However, when internationally benchmarked, the UK’s position, recent performance and future prospects are mixed, being relatively strong at the higher level, but relatively weak at both intermediate and low levels.
  • The direct measurement of literacy, numeracy and digital skill proficiency corroborates the qualification findings and shows also that the UK is around the international average on literacy and digital skills, but well below it on numeracy skills.
  • One third of all employers do not undertake any training of their staff in a given year. Employers more widely however, spend around £45billion a year on training their staff.  Nearly a quarter of all job vacancies are hard to fill due to ‘skill shortages’, though these are sectorally and occupationally concentrated. Such shortages are associated with both technical job specific skills and with personal skills, including problem solving inter alia.
  • 1 in 7 employers have some staff who are not fully proficient in their job. These ‘skill gaps’ amount to some 5% of the employed workforce/jobs
  • 1 in 3 employers, however, have staff whose skills and qualifications are both above those required for their job, and are thus ‘underused’. These ‘over skilled’ and ‘over qualified’ staff amount to some 7% of the employed workforce. International studies show that the incidence of over qualification is high by international standards and that of over skilling is also relatively high, being respectively the highest and second highest in the EU.