The UK faces a range of future skills and employment challenges, in part from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the changing nature of work and an ageing population. Training and workforce development are key to addressing current and future skills shortages and skills gaps, and to improving productivity and international competitiveness. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant disruption to the UK labour market, particularly in sectors that offer in-person services like hospitality, entertainment, and retail. It has also had unequal impacts on men and women. Experts are concerned that the pandemic will exacerbate skills gaps in the existing and future workforce and widen inequalities. Adult education and retraining policies will be needed to help adults upskill and retrain to enter, or move back into, the workforce or move to different sectors. However, adult participation in learning is falling and is not distributed evenly across society; the poorest adults with the lowest qualifications are the least likely to access training.

This POSTnote will cross-reference briefings in the Libraries in both Houses, and complement these by providing a focused overview of skills gaps, which groups are most and least likely to engage in adult training and education and what the barriers to participation in training are. It will also review available longitudinal data to synthesise research evidence on the impact of training on employment, income and social mobility, as review available literature on the effectiveness of different types and approaches to training and education.


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New POST work programme

The POST board approved 5 new POSTnotes in July 2021. Find out how to contribute as an expert.

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