The long game


This latest report from UK think tank the CSJ looks at how to reboot skills training for disadvantaged adults.

It is a sobering thought that, even before the problems hurled at our jobs market by Covid-19, so many adults struggled with basic skills. Astonishingly, over six million working aged adults in England are not qualified to level 2 (GCSE level). And yet our adult learning offer is fragile. This is one of the most pressing social issues of our time. Why? Because, as this CSJ report shows, adult training is a lifeline for people who left school under-qualified. More often than not, a poor start in school means a tough ride in life; millions end up in low-paid jobs, their prospects dragged into the quick-sand. Between 2006–2016, just 17 per cent of low-paid workers moved permanently out of low pay. As this report also highlights, things could get a whole lot worse. Covid-19 is already reshaping the labour market, and many people will need to retrain. And pandemic or no pandemic, the jobs market was already going to change radically: the march of the robots is coming. 1.5 million people are employed in jobs that are at high risk of automation, and low-skilled jobs are particularly exposed. With the destruction there will also be creation, but people will need to have the means to adapt.

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