Challenges to consider
This two-way flexibility is an important element of the UK’s modern economy but it was emphasised in Matthew Taylor’s: Good Work, The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices that this must be ‘genuine two-way flexibility’. Mr Taylor spoke especially of the value in digital platforms to place some form of structure and transparency around these new working methods.
This raises the subject of workforce training. If companies are more likely to buy in key skills when required, and are seemingly less likely to retain their staff for long periods, they are surely less likely to invest in them through training. Research commissioned by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants found that more than a quarter of UK workers have received no training in their jobs during the past year.
This is particularly important in a time when the spring 2018 CIPD/The Adecco Group Labour Market Outlook (LMO) suggests that one in three UK organisations have hard-to-fill vacancies, and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has reported skills shortages at ‘critical levels’.
The Adecco Group UK&I Brexit tracker has consistently reported that upskilling the current workforce is the most likely recruitment practice following the EU referendum, but many academic papers report that employers’ investment in training has been falling for 20 years.
A social contract or mutual understanding?
There are certainly challenges that the UK must discuss and evaluate around the modern world of work. If individuals are increasingly less likely to be connected to employers for long periods of time, then who should be responsible for their development?
Of course, on many levels individuals have always been responsible for their own development but there is a wider question about the skills that the economy requires in the longer term.
If employers are not investing in their workforces then should the state be involved to a greater level?
Unlocking Britain’s Potential, an Adecco Group UK&I report, suggested that two-thirds of employers believe that skills policy should be a collaborative effort between business, the government and the education system.