Written evidence submitted by the Edge Foundation

We are writing from the Edge Foundation where our mission is focused on making education relevant. By this, we wish to support all young people to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to flourish in their future life and work.

At Edge, we publish a series of skills shortages bulletins (2 per year). These bulletins bring together the latest research and discussion on the skills shortages in the UK economy and the future of work. Our bulletins cover a variety of sectors including digital, green, health, construction and creative industries and are read by a wide audience including policy makers, practitioners (in education, e.g. careers advisors, teachers) and other researchers.

Here we highlight some key messages from our bulletins which we hope are of help to the committee. 

Key message 1: Overall labour market changes

Looking to the future, the impact from the Coronavirus pandemic is still continuing to have an impact on jobs and the economy, research highlights that its impact on employment and the labour market has been profound, with the impacts unevenly spread:

Key message 2: Skills shortages are numerous and have grown significantly

Key message 3: The rate of skills investment is in decline

Key message 4: Skills shortages have a significant cost for UK businesses

Key message 5: The skills employers are seeking are overwhelmingly technical and transferable

Key message 6: The skills employers are seeking are not being prioritised within the education system



Questions for the DfE

  1. Education and skills spending is seen as a cost not an investment by HM Treasury. Is that the right or wrong approach?
  2. Is it the case that the apprenticeship levy is being used by large firms to train their existing workforce at the expense of opportunities for young people and letting them off the hook for other training? What is the overall impact of that change on UK productivity?”
  3. This current government continues to emphasise the importance of growth in the economy. So how can we incentivise ‘shared responsibility’ and co-investment in skills from the state, employers, educational institutions, and individuals, to drive the kind of lifelong learning revolution necessary to support future economic success and social prosperity for all?
  4. Significant changes are required in the education system to meet the needs of employers and to support young people to develop the essential skills that the economy needs. Reforming assessment is one way to drive change – what work is being undertaken in the DfE to explore the reform of assessment?
  5. Evidence suggests that the EBacc has led to a decline in subjects such as Design and Technology and creative subjects – which are linked to hugely profitable sectors of the economy. What economic impact assessment has DfE made of the future reduction in GDP as a result of the narrowing of the curriculum?”
  6. Evidence from organisations such as the Edge Foundation highlight feedback from teachers who worry that the curriculum is prioritising knowledge cramming and squeezing out opportunities for the development of broader skills. Given that the National Curriculum has not been reviewed for over 10 years – does the DfE agree that we should be launching a full review into the National Curriculum?
  7. A number of young people are calling for more work experience options. Does the DfE agree that more needs to be done to embed work experience within the curriculum, including putting work experience back on a statutory footing?


October 2022

[1] DD0511_-_Skills_shortages_bulletin_9_online_version2.pdf (edge.co.uk)

[2] DD0511_-_Skills_shortages_bulletin_9_online_version2.pdf (edge.co.uk)

[3] DD0511_-_Skills_shortages_bulletin_9_online_version2.pdf (edge.co.uk)

[4] Microsoft Word - UK Skills Mismatch 2030 - Research paper (industrialstrategycouncil.org)

[5] News | Open University

[6] The Business View | CBI

[7] skills_shortage_bulletin_5_final_-_web_Cpzqlum.pdf (edge.co.uk)

[8] youth-voice-census-report-2022.pdf (youthemployment.org.uk)

[9] Examination results - JCQ Joint Council for Qualifications

[10] joint_dialogue_-_final_report_update-2_De4kkxs.pdf (edge.co.uk)