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Impact of Poor Basic Skills: The Employer Perspective

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Trinh Tu, Research Director, Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute delivered this presentation on the Impact of poor skills: Employer perspective at 'Improving basic skills: An international perspective on a UK dilemma'; an Academic Conference sponsored by the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and Ipsos MORI’s Social Research Institute held on 14 January 2015.

Published in: Recruiting & HR, Education
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  • The number of employers interviewed for the case studies have poor understanding of the basic skills elements within the tasks that their employees carry out. For example, during the case study interviews it was common for employers to begin by asserting that their employees had the basic skills needed for their jobs. However, as the interviews progressed, examples of basic skill gaps started to emerge. Employers also have poor awareness of the literacy and numeracy gaps within their workforce and, by implication, the impact of such gaps on their own workplace performance. http://www.sollylabs.com/ (animation studio)
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Impact of Poor Basic Skills: The Employer Perspective

  1. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI Basic Skills Impact of Poor The employer perspective Trinh Tu
  2. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI To estimate…Aims Evidence The prevalence of poor basic skills in the workplace and its impact on employers The costs and benefits associated with public- funded basic skills training £ Systematic literature review Quantitative data collection In-depth case studies
  3. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI A minority of employers perceive poor basic skills to be an issue
  4. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI A minority of employers perceive poor basic skills to be an issue 5.5% Literacy gap only 3.5% Numeracy gap only 3% Both 12% Of workplaces report a basic skills gap
  5. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI A minority of employers perceive poor basic skills to be an issue 94% 92% 88% 87% 86% 84% 83% No gap Gap Not required 4% 4% 4% 4% 4% 2% 3% 1% 4% 6% 7% 9% 12% 11% % of employers in England Communicate verbally with clients, colleagues or subcontractors Fully understand written procedures Use numerical data or information correctly in day-to-day activities Perform simple mental arithmetic / calculations Complete day-to-day paperwork without errors Respond in writing to queries or complaints Spot numerical errors
  6. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI A minority of employers perceive poor basic skills to be an issue 5.5% Literacy gap only 3.5% Numeracy gap only 3% both 8% on performance? Material impact 12% Of workplaces report a basic skills gap
  7. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI But there is evidence of under-reporting
  8. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI But there is evidence of under-reporting Particular issues for SMEs Absence of HR systems to identify basic skills problems and put in place solutions HR Higher level qualifications sometimes used as a proxy Majority do not specify minimum English or maths in recruitment General lack of awareness of basic skills requirements for different job roles
  9. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI But there is evidence of under-reporting Normal business processes masking poor basic skills Reinforces perception that impact is minimal; not merit investment in training Potential to lock in systematic skills decline among employees Widespread use of (precarious) coping mechanisms - shadowing, scaffolding and peer support
  10. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI There are costs to poor basic skills
  11. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI 50% 44% 38% 35% 25% 18% Increased number of errors Prevented more efficient / new processes being introduced Additional costs for training Reduced product / output quality Failure to comply with requirements (e.g. H&S / quality requirements) Higher volume of customer complaints 43% 36% 33% 33% 26% 17% Literacy Numeracy There are costs to poor basic skills Impact of basic literacy and numeracy gap (self-reported)
  12. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI Limited appetite among employers for formal basic skills training
  13. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI Limited appetite among employers for formal basic skills training Basic skills training in the last year Nationally 15% With a basic skills gap 31% Majority of workplaces with a basic skills gap have not provided training … except where that qualification was deemed to have an external currency
  14. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI Implications for public-funded basic skills provision
  15. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI Implications for public-funded basic skills provision Difficulty identifying impacts at the firm level Not a vehicle for significant changeof basic skills provision is as part of apprenticeships Employers report a range of business benefits but possibly conflated with apprenticeship training Low volume and intensity – an average of 2.4% of employees per workplace
  16. Version 1 | Confidential© Ipsos MORI Conclusions Likely under- reporting of basic skills deficits in workplaces and associated costs Possibility of systematic built- in long-term skills decline Need to understand how collaborative workplace practices can develop skills as well as compensate for deficits Consider funding alternatives to basic skills training activities – peer learning schemes, support for reading for pleasure and other informal, non- credentials based activities
  17. Thank trinh.tu@ipsos.com

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