Despite historically low levels of unemployment and tightening immigration controls, only a third of working age people in the UK feel positive about their future career prospects, according to a recent report.

The study by the City & Guilds Group entitled “Missing Millions” found that, of the 5,000 respondents surveyed, 34 per cent had either not received any training in their workplace or had not had any in the last five years. In total, the report estimates that the skills of just under 18 million UK workers are outdated.

In addition, 60 per cent of respondents stated that they felt the skills they did have were underutilised at least 50 per cent of the time, suggesting that employers are not fully capitalising on the skills they already have within their businesses.

The research also found that:

  • Workers from lower socio-economic groups were much less likely to have received training in the last five years (44 per cent vs 68 per cent) and were less satisfied with their career prospects (22 per cent vs 39 per cent) than those from higher socio-economic groups.
  • Those living in the North East of England faced a significant disadvantage in access to training and opportunities for progression when compared with other regions. Only 21 per cent of people in the North East felt positive about the jobs market in their local area, compared to 45 per cent in London.
  • Those working part-time – significantly more women than men – were also less likely to have received training in the last five years than those working full-time (61 per cent vs 72 per cent). Part-time workers were also far less likely to believe there was opportunity to progress than their full-time counterparts (22 per cent vs 36 per cent).
  • People highly value the training they do receive – 77 per cent of those who had received workplace training stated that it had enabled them to be more effective at their job.


As a result of the findings in the report, the City & Guilds Group is calling on employers to invest in skills development for people at all ages and levels of their career. It also wants government and policy makers to urgently review adult education and create a system that encourages lifelong learning, retraining and reskilling.

Neil Todd, of Thompsons Solicitors, commented: “This report makes for depressing reading and illustrates why the UK labour market is not more productive with workers being denied the opportunity to access training and upskill. We need the government to intervene and make progressive legislative changes if things are to improve. For example, the right to request training under the Employment Rights Act is weak with an employer being able to refuse such requests on a wide range of prescribed grounds. As a consequence, it is vastly underutilised and the average worker would not even know it exists. It is only through strengthening rights like this that we can expect to see positive change.”

To read the report in full, go to: