The CBI is calling for more ‘learn as you earn’ training alongside traditional business-designed degrees to close chronic skills gaps and has issued a new report.
The report, called Tomorrow’s Growth argues that relying alone on traditional university courses will not meet the growing demand for degree-level, technical skills in key sectors like manufacturing, construction, IT and engineering. It calls for the removal of barriers to better co-operation and address the 40 per cent drop in part-time undergraduate applicants since 2010-11.
The business group says there are not enough courses with business links; patchy understanding of student finance; and poor careers advice on options open to young people – arguing a new vocational UCAS-style system could bridge the gap.
It says universities need to boost the number of employer-backed “sandwich” courses and compressed or part-time degrees, which give students practical work experience or allow them to support their studies.
And it says businesses need to expand their commitment to high-quality training schemes – such as higher & advanced apprenticeships; work-based training; and fast-track schemes aimed at school leavers - alongside traditional degrees.
Katja Hall, CBI Policy Director, said: “We need to tackle the perception that the A-levels and three year-degree model is the only route to a good career.
“When faced with £27,000 debt, young people are already becoming much savvier in shopping around for routes to give them the competitive edge in a tighter job market.
“Universities must be much more innovative to take advantage of the change in students’ approach. And we need businesses to roll up their sleeves and expand high-quality alternative routes where degrees are not the best option for young people.”