Several years ago, the UK generated a national “skill strategy” that emphasizes the urgent need for upgrading professional skills in the national workforce (Chalofsky 2014). In the meantime, more and more debates appear concerning the quality of the supply of education and the capacity of British graduates to meet the employers’ demands. Whereas the scope of the problem can be disputed, the fact that a certain percentage of graduates in the UK fail to meet the expectations of potential employees seems to be undoubted.
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Research shows that only 69% of all the British students manage to find a job in their professional field after graduation. As a result, the question arises concerning the key challenges associated with the British educational and training systems.
The challenges that the British educational system meets
The level of the quality of education is the determinant factor of the employment opportunities. Numerous studies show that those of the British students that spend less time on higher education, receive lower qualification level and, thus, a poorer competitive advantage when entering the labour market (Little & Lore 2010). Meanwhile, the cost of education in the UK is significant, and a particular percentage of the residents cannot afford to receive a degree.
This situation creates a favorable background for the appearance of numerous private educational centers that offer low-cost courses. As a result, the job market gets overloaded with specialists with initially low-quality degrees that cannot meet the employers’ demand (Wilson 2012).
The reversed analysis of the problem
In order to receive a better understanding of the reasons why educational institutions fail to provide consistent training, it is critical to set the criteria that they are supposed to meet. Thus, it is expected that a graduate has a particular scope of theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the relevant sphere after completing the higher education. In the meantime, it seems that the concept of skills is still differently interpreted in the society that causes the discrepancy between the institution’s “offer” and the employers’ “demand”. In other words, the key problem resides in the fact that even those graduates that have sustainable knowledge of the subject do not have an idea of how to apply it to practice.
As to employers, practice shows that they are mainly concerned about hiring a skilled employee. Winch and Clarke (2010, p.243) provide an explicit definition of the relevant concept, stating that it includes the “awareness of the aims, values and social significance of the occupation as well as a knowledge of the range of tasks involved.” In the meantime, the authors note that the modern education in the UK tends to focus more on the theoretical forms of studying.
Therefore, the relevant shift interferes with the initial skill formation essential for the development of a high-qualified specialist (Winch & Clarke 2010). As a consequence, employers have to turn down prospective candidates as they realize that the latter will have to get through the initial skill formation in the course of their work, whereas they expect their workers to be already well-prepared.
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Another challenge that the educational supply system in the UK meets is the necessity to adjust to the changes in the job market. It is critical to note that the transformations in the employment sector occur more frequently than the educational institutions are able to implement. For example, the current trend in the job market resides in the fact that the major part of employers put a priority on such skill as “critical thinking”.
Once the demand is posed, the British educational institutions are supposed to react promptly. However, specialist note that critical thinking has not been the primary focus of the British educational system, which means, it will require long-term transformations in order to adjust it to the novelty (Bierema 2015).
In the meantime, it is essential to note that the responsibility for the unmet demand in the job market in the UK should not be placed upon the educational institutions only. Thus, employers often choose the simplest employment policy putting the priority on their own interests and profit. For this reason, they refuse to hire graduates that lack experience regardless of the qualities these candidates possess (Mayhew 2015).
According to specialists’ evaluation, the British talent management system is poorly developed in private and public organizations. Employers have no strategy that would allow integrating talented specialists into the working environment (Armstrong 2012). In this case, it can be stated that the failure to meet the employers demand cannot be assigned to the drawbacks of the UK educational supply system.
In conclusion, it is essential to note that the key challenge that the current British educational system fails to overcome is maintaining the reasonable balance between theoretical and practical knowledge that it delivers. Thus, current job market shows an increased demand for specialists with consistent practical skills, whereas educational institutions continue focusing on theoretical aspects. Meanwhile, it would be unfair to state that the educational supply system fails to carry out its responsibilities. Practice shows that employers often want to avoid the risk of hiring graduates referring to the lack of necessary skills and experience. As a result, the graduates are deprived of any opportunity to enhance essential qualifications.
Armstrong, M 2012, Armstrong’s Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice, Kogan Page, London.
Bierema, LL 2015, ‘Critical Human Development to Enhance Reflexivity, Change Discourse, and Adopt a Call-to-Action’, Human Resource Development Review, vol. 14, no.1, pp. 119-124.
Chalofsky, NF 2014, Handbook of Human Resource Development, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey.
Little, B & Lore, A 2010, ‘Less time to study, less well prepared for work, yet satisfied with higher education: a UK perspective on links between higher education and the labour market’, Journal of Education & Work, vol. 23, no.2, pp. 275-296.
Mayhew, K 2015, ‘UK labour market policy then and now’, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, vol. 31, no.2, pp. 199-216.
Wilson, JP 2012, International Human Resource Development: Learning, Education and Training for Individuals and Organizations, Kogan Page, London.
Winch, C & Clarke, L 2010, ‘’Front-loaded’ vocational education versus lifelong learning: a critique of current UK government policy’, Oxford Review of Education, vol. 29, no.2, pp. 239-252.