Britain Demands More Skilled Workers - According to New Report
demands in Britain's workplaces are continuing to rise, according to a new
survey commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills and produced by a
team of researchers including Dr Alan Felstead of the University of Leicester.
study showed that the proportion of degree-level jobs increased from 10 per cent
in 1986 to 17 per cent in 2001. Only 27 per cent of jobs today required no
qualifications, compared to 38 per cent in 1986. Fewer jobs require a cumulative
training time of under three months, falling from 66 per cent in 1986 to 61 per
cent in 2001. This also indicates a rise in the complexity of jobs, with fewer
jobs requiring only a very short time to pick up and to learn to do well (27 per
cent in 1986 compared with 20 per cent in 2001).
the other findings of the report, Works Skills in Britain 1986-2001, published
Friday 1 March, are:
are catching up on men in the skills used in jobs:
The proportions of jobs held by men requiring no qualifications fell from
31 per cent to 24 per cent over 1986-2001, while the equivalent decline for jobs
held by women was from 48 per cent to 29 per cent.
call for computing skills is continuing to rise rapidly:
Jobs involving computers comprised 72 per cent of jobs in 2001, compared
with just 53 per cent in 1992. In the four years from 1997 to 2001, the
proportion of jobs in which use of computers was essential rose from 31 per cent
to 40 per cent. Other generic skills, such as problem solving, communication,
planning, technical know-how, literacy and numeracy, are also becoming steadily
more important in British jobs.
is also becoming more important for workers to learn on the job:
In 2001 81 per cent of people reported that their job required them to
learn new things (compared with 76 per cent in 1992).
Jobs that require computing skills continue to pay well:
A job which requires the use of computers at a 'moderate' level, for
example to analyse spreadsheets, enjoys an average wage premium of around 21 per
cent for women and 13 per cent for men. High-level communication skills, such as
making presentations or writing long reports, also come at a premium in the
supply of qualifications in the workforce has expanded to meet the rising
The supply of highly-qualified workers roughly matches the demand. The
supply of workers with intermediate and lower qualifications considerably
exceeds the number of jobs that explicitly require these qualifications for
recruitment. However, employers continue to pay their qualified workers more,
and still prefer to hire qualified rather than unqualified workers.
increasing skills, there has been a marked decline in the discretion people can
exercise in their jobs, especially among professional people:
For example, the proportion of all employees reporting a great deal of
choice over the way they do their job fell from 52 per cent in 1986 to 39 per
cent in 2001. Professor Francis Green of
Kent University, who led the team conducting the survey, said: "These
findings give us a better insight into evolving working practices in Britain
over the past 15 years. The good news is that increasing job skills provide the
basis for improved economic prosperity, and that computer skills are growing in
all sectors of the economy. But the downside is that many people are finding
they are being given less discretion and choice in their daily tasks, and this
makes them less satisfied with their jobs."
survey is based on interviews with 4,500 working individuals in Britain aged
20-60. It collected information about the skills utilised at work, using an
innovative methodology that had previously been developed for the 1997 Skills
Survey. The report explains how several different aspects of work skill can be
measured, and examines the distribution of skills among workers. The report also
describes changes that have taken place since 1986, by making comparisons with
previous surveys. Finally, the values of different types of skills in the labour
market are estimated.
research was carried out by a team directed by Professor Francis Green of the
University of Kent, and the Oxford and Warwick-based ESRC Centre for Skills,
Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE). Other members of the team
included Professor Duncan Gallie of Nuffield College, Oxford.
to Editors: Copy of the executive
summary or of the full report of Work Skills in Britain 1986-2001 can be
downloaded from: http://www.ukc.ac.uk/economics/staff/gfg/
full report can also be downloaded from:
or otherwise obtained from DfES Publications; telephone 0845 60 222 60, email firstname.lastname@example.org
SKOPE, an ESRC Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.