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Home > News > May 2007 > 22 May 2007

Report says skills boost needed to drive UK productivity

A new report from the Sector Skills Development Agency suggests that UK productivity levels are falling behind Europe and the US and that this is caused to a large extent by the UK's relatively lower skills levels.

The Sector Skills Almanac for the UK (2007) aims to provide a portrait of the skills of the UK workforce sectors. It also highlights the work of the Skills for Business network which comprises 25 sector skills councils.

According to the report, while the UK's employment rate is the fourth highest in Europe and that some sectors are more productive than their EU and US equivalents, the UK's overall productivity levels are 21 per cent behind the USA and eight per cent lower than Europe.

Professor Mike Campbell, director of development at the Sector Skills Development Agency, said: "The Almanac, which will be an annual publication from now on, shows how vital it is that we raise skill levels in this country. There is a shortage of basic and employability skills, vocational and technical skills, and intermediate and higher level skills are more plentiful in the workforces of other countries. Similarly the UK's productivity level relative to its competitor countries is weak. The difference is stark when per hour or per worker measures of productivity are considered."

Professor Campbell said the Review identified the challenges to the UK's economy posed by the increasing pace of global demographic and technological change. He said skills were key to closing the productivity gap with competitor countries.

"The UK is starting from a position of disadvantage and significant progress is required if we are to ensure a strong economy for the future."

The Skills Almanac found that 25 per cent of all vacancies in England existed due to a lack of candidates with the required skills, qualifications or experience. Employers in England reported six per cent of all staff was less than fully proficient to do the job required of them.

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