A new report released today by the City & Guilds Group shows how increasing professional and technical skills can benefit different countries' economies.
The report explores skills training in the UK, US, India and South Africa. It found that increasing professional and technical skills by 10% could boost UK GDP by £163 billion by 2025.
It also highlights that a 10 percentage point increase in the number of upper secondary school pupils enrolled in vocational education could lead to a 1.5 percentage point reduction in youth unemployment in the UK and the US.
It further proves that skills education can significantly benefit employers in all of the markets studied. On average, the net annual business benefits of training an apprentice in the UK in 2013/14 was £1500 per annum.
Apprenticeships also benefit individuals; in the US, nine years after enrolment, apprentices will see cumulative career benefits of $60,000 more than their similar counterparts who did not participate in an apprenticeship.
However, despite the potential benefits of investing in skills, there are currently a number of barriers standing in the way.
In particular, an ongoing stigma around vocational education was prevalent in all of the countries studied. In the United States less that 1% of 15-24 year olds are taking an apprenticeship, and in India, only 2.3% of the current workforce has undergone formal skills training. A further barrier is how complex it is to run an effective and responsive system that meets the needs of employers.
Speaking about the report, Chris Jones, Chief Executive of the City & Guilds Group, said:
'Given the high returns, investing in professional and technical education is a safe bet for individuals, employers and economies. It helps to fill skills gaps, boost productivity, enhance industries and increase employment.
'However, while professional and technical education offers so much potential, there are still challenges that are getting in the way. Governments across the world need to understand these challenges and work with employers and education providers to tackle them head-on.'
The research was developed by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), and research organisations Reputation Leaders and The Research Base.
Scott Corfe, Associate Director at Cebr said:
'Our research shows just how much countries across the world have to gain by investing in skills. The UK could boost its GDP by £163bn by 2025 if it increased training in professional and technical skills by 10%. This, coupled with the decrease in unemployment will put the UK in a strong position for the future.
'We can assume other countries not covered in this report would see similar benefits. There is a clear case for investing in professional and technical education, so I hope governments, businesses and employers stand up, take notice and invest in tomorrow’s workforce.’
Click here to read the research reports.