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UK workers want to upskill this year

A survey of the nation’s workforce indicated that employees are feeling more optimistic about career goals in 2022 compared with last year – with over half (52%) saying they wanted a promotion in 2022, and 69% wanting increased job satisfaction in the new year compared to 2021. Employers are being urged to make the most of this national appetite for workplace skills development, to boost business growth.

Employers are being urged to make the most of a national appetite for workplace skills development, as new research shows 70% of the nation’s workforce are interested in upskilling in 2022. With tens of millions of employees around England interested in learning new skills in their job this year, the government is encouraging businesses to ‘Join the Skills Revolution’ and grasp this opportunity to boost their business growth.

The Censuswide survey of over 4,000 of the nation’s workforce indicated that employees are feeling more optimistic about career goals in 2022 compared with last year – with over half (52%) saying they wanted a promotion in 2022, and 69% wanting increased job satisfaction in the new year compared to 2021.

Nearly seven out of 10 (67%) workers believe that new skills will help them achieve these career goals in 2022.

The research coincides with the launch of the government campaign urging employers to ’Join the Skills Revolution’, aiming to help businesses gear up for economic recovery by skilling up their workforce. The campaign highlights the range of support and funding available for employers wanting to boost their workforce capabilities, including apprenticeships, traineeships, and T Levels.

A Demand for Learning
The survey found a considerable demand for on-the-job training, with 39% of workers saying they would find this particularly useful. A further 31% of workers wanted courses specific to their sector, as well as encouragement and practical support from their employer – with 1 in 3 saying they felt held back by a lack of time (36%), a lack of confidence (31%) or knowing where to start (30%).

Approximately 1 in 4 workers (24%) also felt that courses in general areas such as leadership, numeracy and digital skills would be beneficial – courses for adult learners in these areas are available as part of the Skills of Life campaign. Most of the courses are free, with flexible learning formats to suit all needs, including hundreds more subjects available such as literacy, green sector, engineering, construction, leadership, resilience, and communication.

Among the sectors with the biggest desire for new skills were those employees working in sectors requiring a specialist skillset, including green industries where nine in ten (90%) said they wanted to learn new skills relating to work, followed by 84% in science and 87% in IT and Telecomms sectors.

Up Skilling for Success
Viren Patel, Director of the Business Development Unit at The Open University noted that upskilling employees “helps with attraction and retention of staff, provides motivation and engagement”.

Prominent industry voices have spoken about the importance of skills to drive better results and retain their workforce. They are joined by an alliance of influential employers from a diverse range of sectors who are backing the campaign, including Mastercard, Openreach, Heineken, AstraZeneca, Virgin Media O2 and many more.

Andy Wales, Chief Digital Impact and Sustainability Officer for BT Gro Up, said:  “The skills that employers, and wider society, need is constantly changing, so it’s important we’re continually looking to upskill people for the digital world. Making sure that as many people as possible have the latest skills not only helps employers, it also helps individuals and society more broadly. Improving skills means inspiring new talent and improving wellbeing across the board. BT Group is playing a lead role in this area with our goal to help 25m people across the UK improve their digital skills by 2026.”

Camilla Drejer, Managing Director, Citizenship & Responsible Business, Accenture UKI, said: “Change is all around us, so it is vital that we keep our skills fresh in order to respond to the dynamic environment. At Accenture, we encourage our people to be lifelong learners to help them thrive and our clients grow. Our employee training hours nearly doubled last year as they took advantage of our library of over 8,000 skills and certifications, including apprenticeships. It is important for everyone to take advantage of the many skills opportunities that are open to adults to get a better job and to help employers to skill up their workforce, boost productivity and get better results.”

Liberty Steel’s apprenticeship programme has impacted on their staff retention rates, which have been extremely high over the last 10 years, allowing the business to retain the key skills the it needs – investing in technical education is important, as they are able to retain the bespoke skills that are required within the steel industry.

Tony Goddard, training and development manager at Liberty Steel said:
Our apprentices are on a fixed three-year contract and to earn a substantive position with a permanent contract they need to not only complete their apprenticeship but also to demonstrate to the business that that have earned the contract. We rotate our apprentices throughout the business on a quarterly schedule and every attachment is an opportunity for the apprentices to shine.”

The ‘Skills for Life’ campaign will showcase hundreds of government-funded skills opportunities available and help businesses to upskill their employees, find new talent and be a part of training the future workforce.

Nadhim Zahawi MP, Secretary of State for Education said:
“It is no secret that a skilled and motivated workforce is the key to driving better performance and boosting productivity.  There has never been a better time to make skills a top priority.

To support businesses to unlock untapped talent there is a huge range of training available to help upskill their staff for free including online courses to boost numeracy to apprenticeships, traineeships, T Levels or our Skills Bootcamps.”

Training Opportunities
The opportunities on offer as part of the Join the Skills Revolution campaign, have been designed by and in partnership with employers, listening to businesses to meet their recruitment needs and address skills gaps, through flexible, free or subsidised courses.

T Levels follow GCSEs and offer a new route into the workplace for the next generation, with a 45-day industry placement hosted by employers. . T Levels sit alongside Traineeships (customisable training programmes for 16–24-year-olds) and provide a pathway into employment or apprenticeships, whilst giving businesses early access to the brightest young people entering the market and the opportunity to shape the workforce of the future. Funding and incentive payments are available for employers, with SME’s receiving 95% of apprenticeship training costs and £1000 on offer for those hosting traineeships and T Level industry placements.

Businesses are urged to join the skills revolution and drive better performance. Visit to find skills opportunities designed by employers, for employers.

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