Job snobbery hinders attempts to plug UK skills gap

Job
snobbery in the UK is hampering efforts to fill skills shortages and boost
productivity, according to a new report.

A
poll of 2,500 people by The Work Foundation, commissioned for the report, finds
the views of peers have an enormous impact on people’s choice of work.

Half
the respondents under 30 said they were influenced by the views of family and
friends when it came to choosing where they worked. Asked if they would take a
job with good career prospects in the quick-service restaurant sector,
two-thirds said no.

The
Work Foundation’s report shows that jobs in the service sector boast some of
the most innovative training programmes in the UK today, but are often much
maligned. It says jobs in the sector are providing communication and teamwork
skills that the country is crying out for.

The
report also warns that failure to take notice of the career progression and
social mobility engendered by service sector employers could damage attempts to
raise productivity.

Andy
Westwood, head of policy research and author of Are we being served? Career
mobility and skills in the UK workforce, said employers such as McDonald’s and Asda
dig into some of the country’s most difficult and marginalised labour markets,
but simultaneously boast some of the most far-reaching development programmes.

“The
UK seems to have a blind spot towards these leaders who take vast numbers of people
from little or no skills to high skills,” he said. “These organisations
emphatically do not offer the dead end jobs so often associated with the
service sector. In fact, they are bucking our increasingly poor trends in
economic and social mobility.

“On
the eve of the Government’s Skills Strategy, it is clear that we can all learn
from the way the service sector approaches training and development. The value
of these skills and their training programmes is high. If we continue
undermining them, the battle to narrow the UK’s productivity gap will become
much harder.”

By Quentin Reade

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