August brings news of the biggest shake up in Construction skills in a generation, with career pathways in one of our most valuable sectors now available through a level 3 apprenticeship – an inclusive move being mirrored by ACCA Wales, which has introduced a level 4 apprenticeship to widen access for careers in finance and accountancy.
Both developments are very welcome, with the latest CIPD report showing that 47% of employers have hard-to-fill vacancies, a government study revealing particularly large and long-term skills gaps in our Cyber security industry – and another industry report detailing how 72% of workers favour a 4-day working week, in a talent economy that is changing like never before …
Biggest Construction Apprenticeship change in a generation comes into force
Changes to the key construction apprenticeship qualifications in Wales, designed to better meet the needs of employers and students, have come into force in time for the autumn college term – modernising the framework of study to make it more inclusive for students, providing an equal partnership between employers and training providers, and making it easier for employers to sponsor an apprentice during their initial college year.
The revised framework represents the biggest shake-up in construction skills for a generation, with the new qualifications developed to meet the needs of a new era – enabling workers to gain the occupational knowledge and expertise required by the industry, as well as exploring the diversity of the fast-evolving built environment in Wales.
The changes follow a comprehensive Qualifications Wales report, ‘Building the Future’, which reviewed the occupations that have historically provided most apprenticeships in Wales – Architectural Joinery, Bricklaying, Painting & Decorating, Plant Operations, Site Carpentry and Solid Plastering – as well as those trades that are emerging in importance, such as Civil Engineering Groundworking, Dry Lining, Roofing, Timber Frame Erecting and Wall & Floor Tiling.
New Level 3 Apprenticeships have been developed offering several entry requirement options, following in-depth discussions with employers on how best to widen and support the broadest possible pathways into construction.
CITB, City & Guilds and Career Wales are all supporting the introduction of these new Apprenticeship Qualifications, with a commitment to future proofing talent pipelines for an industry that remains one of Wales’ largest employers.
ACCA Wales urges young people to ‘Start your Story’ in finance and accountancy
With August bringing exam results for many thousands of students across our region, ACCA Wales is urging young people to remember that there are many different ways to start a career in finance and accountancy.
While results day will bring both celebration and disappointment, the ACCA is highlighting the range of starting points available to anyone with ambitions to become a qualified accountant, irrespective of school exam results – including Level 4 Accounting apprenticeships, alongside other work-while-study and self-study routes.
As an organisation founded on a mission to make the accountancy profession accessible to everyone, everywhere, ACCA is putting its weight behind #startyourstory – spotlighting the valuable career pathways available to students who don’t go to university, and case-studying many examples of people who have overcome setbacks and disadvantages to carve out successful careers in finance and the wider business world.
14,000 new talents needed to fill the Cyber Security skills gap
The latest report from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has found a 14,000+ shortfall of cyber security professionals in the UK – revealing both the size and nature of the skills challenge that needs to be addressed by one of CCR’s key priority sectors.
The report reveals a cyber skills challenge on two levels: a skills gap in cyber professionals lacking the appropriate expertise, and a skills shortage (with a lack of people available to fill the current and emerging cyber security positions).
With 39% of UK companies experiencing at least one cyber attack in the last twelve months – and cyber security a relatively new profession that’s still finding its feet in nurturing new talent – the spotlight is on cyber security skilling like never before, with a shortage of talent across many different roles, from penetration testing (ethical hacking) and vulnerability scanning, to fixing security holes and building secure systems.
Encouragingly, the DCMS report provides evidence that the sector is becoming more diverse, with 22% female cyber professionals (compared to 15% in 2020) and 25% of professionals coming from ethnic backgrounds (vs 20% in 2020).
The report highlights the need for a long-term strategy to start cyber studies in the schools STEM curriculum, making sure that technically-minded young people of all backgrounds, genders and ethnicities are made aware of the huge opportunities available within the cyber industry.
Hiring boom set to peak but skill shortages to continue
The UK’s hiring boom is set to continue into the next quarter as private sector pay awards reach new heights – with the labour market remaining incredibly tight and skilled candidates hard to attract, according to the CIPD’s latest Labour Market Outlook report.
The latest instalment of the CIPD’s forward-looking quarterly economic indicator found that many employers were still grappling with recruitment and retention challenges when surveyed in late June/early July – with pay award expectations hitting a record high in the private sector, rising to a median of 4%, the highest recorded by the Outlook since it began in 2012.
However, the employment market could well be nearing its peak, with high inflation eroding pay packets and recession forecast for the end of 2022 – causing the CIPD to warn against unsustainable pay increases and asking employers to look at other ways of supporting financial wellbeing, such as enhancing the overall benefits package, to help employees meet the cost-of-living challenge.
The survey of 2,000 senior HR decision makers indicated that hiring intentions remained strong, with seven in ten employers (72%) expecting to recruit in the next three months (rising to 84% in the public sector) – and just 13% of employers expecting to make redundancies in the next quarter.
Almost half (47%) of employers have hard-to-fill vacancies, and these are most strongly felt in education (56%), transport and storage (55%), and the voluntary sector (53%).
In response to the ongoing recruitment and retention challenges, employers have chosen to upskill existing staff (41%), advertise more jobs on a flexible working basis (35%) and raise pay (29%) – revealing an appetite for upskilling that is set to become a key feature in the Welsh workplace.
Over 70% of workers favour four-day working week
With 3,000 employers at 70 UK companies currently taking part in a four-day working week – a six-month experiment that could help shape how many businesses in our region operate in the future – a new research finding reports that 72% of UK workers are either in favour or strongly in favour of a four day working week.
The report findings published by NerdWallet showed that more than 60% of employees believe they can do a five day week in four days, with women (64%) more confident than men (61%) in their ability to do so.
When asked “What level of pay cut would you be willing to take to work a 4-day week?” two thirds of women (66%) said they wouldn’t take a pay cut to work a four day week, compared to 56% of men.
Over half (53%) of the 2,000 workers surveyed believed they would need to move jobs to find a company that offered a 4-day working arrangement, close to two fifths (38%) were unsure whether they’d need to move jobs to work a day less, and just 8% said they wouldn’t need to leave their job as their employer was looking to implement it.
With workers in the UK seemingly confident in their ability to work smarter rather than harder – and skills shortages deepening in many sectors – it will be interesting to see how many employers in our region feel able to embrace a shorter working week as part of a future employment deal.
Stay up-to-date on the latest news in Skills & Talent across our region – www.venturewales.org