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Worried About the 2030 Skills Gap? Use the New CIPD Qualifications to Prepare

If there’s something we can all agree on, it’s that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the year a challenging one to work within the HR sector. As a result, we’re probably all looking forward to seeing the year come to an end.

But what if, by the end of the decade, there was a HR-shaped headache brewing that would make the temporary disruption of the pandemic look like a picnic?

We’re talking about the 2030 skills gap.

By 2030, the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Council has predicted that the UK economy could be facing severe and debilitating skills shortages – and that was before an unprecedented pandemic.

So how have we got into this situation, and what can we do to resolve it? We decided to take a closer look at the issue.

The 2030 Skills Gap Explained

Put simply, a skills gap is when there is a mismatch between the skills that employees have and the skills that employers need. In an economy suffering from a skills gap, employers find it difficult to find workers with the right skills for roles, and as a result workers find it difficult to get the job they want.

Research by the Industrial Strategy Council has found that by 2030 there is likely to be an oversupply of low-skilled/medium-skilled employees in sectors that aren’t in need of them and a shortage of highly skilled employees in the sectors that do need them. The ‘UK Skills Mismatch in 2030’ report found that by the end of the decade around 20% of employees in the UK labour
market (about 7 million workers) could be considered ‘underskilled’.

And that’s a significant problem for the long-term productivity of businesses.

2030 Skills Gap Infographic Blog

What will the economy look like in 2030?

Another UK Government-commissioned research paper, ‘The Future of Work: Jobs and Skills in 2030’ predicted four outcomes for how the skills gap could affect the UK economy:

The Great Divide

In this scenario, emerging tech industries are the impetus behind fast, but ultimately imbalanced, growth in the economy. This creates a huge divide between workers considered high skilled and low skilled, driving inequality as a result.

Forced Flexibility

More flexibility in the labour market and business, combined with limited innovation, lead to small-scale growth in the economy. Few job opportunities are created though and there is less job security for workers considered low skilled.

Innovation Adaptation

A boom in STEM and digital skills drives new technology, improving productivity and output. A divide between high skilled workers and low skilled workers emerges nonetheless.

Skills Activism

New technology leads to massive automation of most professional job roles. This created huge job losses, which in turn prompts a national, government-led skills programme to retrain the workforce.

What skills will be in demand in 2030?

So, what are the skills organisations will need, and how do the new CIPD qualifications help you get them?

Basic digital skills

By 2030, the Industrial Strategy Council estimates that up to 5 million workers in the UK could lack the basic digital skills and knowledge to be able to do their jobs competently. With digital technology growth accelerating, it’s extremely likely that digital skills will be in high demand in the future economy.

The Foundation Certificate, Associate Diploma and Advanced Diploma all cover digital skills and how to use them in HR and L&D sectors in detail.

Leadership and management skills

The UK already has a concerning leadership and management skills gap and by 2030, the situation will have significantly worsened if nothing is done. Core management skills like leadership, critical thinking and decision-making are predicted to be some of the most in demand by that time.

The Associate Diploma covers basic and intermediate leadership and management skills, whilst the Advanced Diploma focuses on specialist, complex leadership skills for senior employees.

Communication skills

As automation grows and artificial intelligence takes over a huge number of roles, there’s likely to be an increased demand for so-called ‘soft’ skills, like communication, creativity and problem- solving amongst workers.

Interpersonal skills development forms an important part of the content of all three CIPD qualifications.

What can we do about it?

Governments and employers share responsibilities for finding a solution to the crisis.

To safeguard against the disruption of these outcomes, HR and L&D departments should start upskilling their employees now. Professional qualifications like CIPD are a uniquely good solution because they focus on developing the practical skills that employers need (versus, for example, university education which is more academic in nature).

There’s a surprisingly simple option that employers can use to combat the upcoming challenges – retraining and reskilling employees to meet future demands. The logic goes that by investing in solutions today, we can face the challenges of tomorrow confidently. Here are some practical measures we can use to get ahead of the skills gap, besides investing in CIPD qualifications:

Recognise the value of lifelong learning

A major failing of the UK economy for decades has been a short-termist attitude to workers. A really powerful thing that employers can do to face the skills gap is to be aware of the value that continuing professional development offers to employees.

Encouraging workers to complete qualifications, training and skills development provides a wide-range of benefits at work, besides just skilling up. Professional development has been proven to improve business productivity, employee retention and efficiency, saving you money in the long-term.

Identify employees with potential

If you’re a manager at a business, take a long-term attitude towards skills by finding promising employees and developing their skills and expertise. An approach like this can significantly skill- up a workforce. Make sure to ask your management teams to pay close attention to which employees show a talent for a particular skill, and develop them with additional training and mentoring.

Build a culture of learning in your workplace

All of these measures will be useless unless you develop a clear culture of learning in your workplace that values knowledge and encourages continuous training. Develop a company learning strategy, try to get buy-in from senior management and nurture the skills of your employees.

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