Sources of Skill Shortages in Britain

Sources of Skill shortages in Britain

This assignment discusses the reasons for skills shortages in Britain. This assignment is divided into four portions. First part will describe the how the shift in policy making shifted from industrial relations toward skills. Second part will describe the main factors that were causing Britain’s employees to be less productive by comparing it with Germany. The third part will discuss the various developments that were done to improve Britain’s vocational educational system. The fourth and last past will discuss the problems in demand side of skill shortages. The discussion about skill shortages as factors in explaining Britain’s low wage problem will be discussed in this last part.

Skills are important factors for any country’s economic performance. As argued by Thurow (1994), “... in the economy ahead, skills are the only source of competitive advantage. Everything else is available to everyone on a more or less equal access basis.” (As cited by Keep and Mathew, 1998:368) Skills are the main focus of policies in Britain today. The focus of policies from industrial relations toward skills has shifted gradually with time according to the views of governments about the causes of Britain’s low productivity and low economic performance. Skills were never totally absent from government policies but they were mostly overshadowed by industrial relations. The shift in focus of policies from industrial relations to skills will be discussed below.

Industrial relations remained the main focus of policy attention from 1960 to 1980. The reason for industrial relations as main focus of policy attention was due to the problems of strikes, conflicts and low productivity faced by Government at that time. The Donovan commission was established in 1965 to enter the industries and investigate these problems. Its report in 1968 suggested that lack of order in the collective bargaining system was the root cause for these problems. The...