Youngsters from Birmingham will miss out on a rising number of top jobs in the city due to a lack of skills, according to a new report.
While there will be a rise in managerial, professional and technical jobs in the city, they will likely be taken up by youngsters elsewhere because of a lack of skills, researchers have found.
A report by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (CESI) said the report “points to a skills crisis facing the UK’s biggest regional city” after revealing almost 50 per cent of new students at the main colleges in Birmingham are studying low-level courses.
It says there will be skills shortages predicted in social services, health, education, manufacturing design and engineering and ICT.
Adam Crews, senior research associate at the CESI. said “By analysing recent trends in the labour market, we found that the city is falling behind the rest of the West Midlands in terms of employment opportunities and economic activity.
“From our detailed analysis matching subjects being taught at colleges and universities across the region with the employment market looking forward to 2022, we found that despite the efforts of many institutions in the post-16 sector, young people are pursuing options that may not necessarily lead to well-paid employment.”
Researchers found that almost half of the courses taken at colleges in the city were at the basic level two, while a third of courses taken at Birmingham colleges are short term.
Total employment for the West Midlands region is set to increase by five per cent between 2013 and 2022, particularly driven by opportunities in managerial, professional and technical occupations. However these subjects are not followed by the regional population of young people according to the CESI.
The report highlights key challenges:
1. Birmingham has lost out on market progress made elsewhere in the region.
2. Growth in jobs that are in declining sectors and which attract low earnings.
3. Schools and colleges are failing to provide effective advice.
4. The further education sector particularly failing to address the mismatch between skills taught and the demands of the labour market.
5. Looming shortage of graduates with business and management qualifications.
6. Skills shortages predicted in social services, health, education, manufacturing design and engineering and ICT.
7. Birmingham’s economy falling behind rest of the region.
The CESI was commissioned by Beverley Nielsen, director of corporate affairs at Birmingham City University (BCU), to carry out the research.
It shows an ingrained failure by schools and colleges to address the skills mismatch.
Industry bodies such as the CBI and the Institution for Mechanical Engineers have long argued that there is a regional skills shortage in key parts of the economy.
Ms Nielsen said: “The report highlights the risk of even larger skills deficits across a range of subjects. The question is how do we address the apparent shortage of skills in key areas of growth and the surplus of courses aimed at declining areas of employment and an over dependence on short course provision. We should use these findings to understand the challenges and to help develop a plan of action to address them. This will mean working with our partners in education and business.”
The findings also highlight the need to continually improve labour market intelligence and make this available so that people can make fully informed career choices in what continue to be difficult times for young people entering the labour market.
Speaking for BCU, pro vice chancellor Professor Bashir Makhoul said: “The media has paid a great deal of attention to the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ story but here we have a genuine and deep-rooted problem that is affecting all of our communities not just in Birmingham but across the region.
“The picture presented by this independent report is quite bleak: too many institutions and especially our schools and further education colleges in Birmingham have pupils and students following courses that will lead them into low paying jobs and into sectors that are in decline. This university is already working with employers, schools and further education colleges and other partners to increase the employability of our students.
“We think others should be doing the same.
As a region, we need our city to thrive. Indeed, as a nation we need our biggest regional city to thrive and regenerate. We are making progress but clearly have a long way to go.”