The report looks at the need to revive the layers of education that lie between school-leaving exams and university degrees, where employers say they face the biggest skills gaps.
Commenting on the report, Christopher Hale, Director of Policy at Universities UK, said: "The report is right that we need to look at how learners can progress from school through to higher level qualifications and skills. It is vital that this is looked at if we are to meet the future skills challenges we face.
"Many universities are working to support this and we are seeing a growth in partnerships between higher and further education. These links and progression routes are helping to provide the flexible provision that employers need. We also need to move away from the outdated and unhelpful distinction between technical and academic education. The jobs market is going to change rapidly in the coming years, so we need government policies that encourage people to upskill and promote more flexible ways of learning."
The report from HEPI – Filling in the biggest skills gap: Increasing learning at Levels 4 and 5 – is authored by Professor Dave Phoenix, Vice-Chancellor of London South Bank University (LSBU), and will be published on the HEPI website on Thursday 23 August.
Universities UK published a report earlier this month on Solving future skills challenges. The report indicated that there will be unmet demand for level 4 and 5 higher level qualifications (such as HNCs, HNDs, and Foundation Degrees). The report looks also at the rapid pace of change and increasing complexity of work, and highlights the need for continual skill upgrading, lifelong learning and study of higher education qualifications at all levels. The report is available to download.
Universities UK is working currently on a new project to look at whether higher education can introduce more flexible ways of learning to meet the changing needs of students and employers. Following the shift in 2012 in England to a tuition fee cap of £9,000, there has been a drop of around one third in the number of part-time student enrolments across the UK. The Universities UK project is looking at which individuals and sectors have been most affected by this fall. It looking also at which employers and sectors are in greatest future need of high-level skills. The project will publish its findings and policy recommendations later this year.