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Over-skilled and underused: Investigating the untapped potential of UK skills

This research aims to provide an up-to-date picture of the state of the UK’s skills base and how well workers’ skills are being used and developed at work. It examines the extent of skills and qualifications mismatches, the availability of and access to in-work training and development, as well as career progression and the role of workplace culture and line managers within this context. The results are based on a representative survey of 3,700 employees along with three online focus groups. Accompanying the report is a focused guide for employers and managers to counter skills mismatches through good people management practice., Key findings include: (1) roles and qualifications needed – a large proportion of roles (44 per cent) required no or only school-level qualifications for entry; almost a third (30 per cent) that needed a higher-level degree to get their jobs say lower qualifications are actually needed to perform their roles; (2) extent and impact of skills mismatch – nearly half of workers report being mismatched in their roles, with 37 per cent over-skilled and 12 per cent under-skilled; over-skilled workers are less satisfied and nearly twice as likely to want to quit than those in well-matched roles; over-skilled workers are also more likely to say their job offers poor prospects for career advancement, training and skills development; well-matched workers are much more likely to agree there is trust between management and employees; and (3) progression, training and development – over a quarter (26 per cent) report ‘lack of opportunities’ as the biggest barrier to progression, followed by ‘lack of confidence’ (14 per cent); low-paid workers have less labour market mobility – only 12 per cent of those earning {textless£20,000 p.a. have been promoted in their current organisation, compared with 45 per cent of those on £40,000 or more; almost a quarter (24 per cent) of workers had undertaken no training in the past year, with older, low-wage or part-time workers and also self-employed the worst affected; and line managers were seen as gatekeepers to opportunities but were viewed to have neither the time nor experience to fulfil their roles effectively.