Employability hit hardest by lockdown according to UK students

-More than half (54%) of UK pupils aged 16-18 think the pandemic caused greater disruption to their skills-based learning - essential for work - than their academic learning
-Less than half (47%) believe their school education has prepared them for a job
-More than two in five (44%) planning to pursue an apprenticeship or job feel they don’t have many skills to make them stand out and less than half (46%) know how to obtain such skills

Publish Date: June 29, 2021 - 7:01am

LONDON - June 29 2021 - More than half (54%) of UK pupils aged 16-18 believe the COVID-19 pandemic caused greater disruption to their employable skills-based learning - such as data analysis and communication skills - than to their learning of academic subjects, leaving them less prepared to enter the workforce, according to a new survey from Tableau, the world’s leading analytics platform (NYSE: CRM). 

The nationwide research, which explored the impact of lockdown on the education of pupils in years’ 10-13, also found that less than half (47%) of students feel that their school education has prepared them for the world of work, while almost two fifths (38%) are unaware of the key skills sought after by employers.

A Royal Society report during lockdown suggested that school time lost because of the pandemic could harm the UK economy for the next 65 years due to its negative impact on the future skills of the workforce.

Discussing the results in relation to the UK’s data skills gap, Professor Pat Tissington, Academic Director of Employability and Skills at University of Warwick said: “To speed up the UK’s economic recovery, it is vital that educational institutions prepare pupils for the world of work and give greater focus to the skills that are becoming increasingly important for employers, such as data analysis.

“Data skills are relevant for a wide range of roles, yet the research from Tableau shows that almost half (47%) of students find the concept of data analysis a little scary. This precedes the pandemic; in the last two years almost half (46%) of UK businesses have struggled to recruit for roles that require data skills. More needs to be done to equip pupils with the digital skills they need in the workplace if the UK is to avoid a huge data skills gap.”

For UK employers, the need for digital skills has spread far beyond traditional IT job roles, with  two in three (68%) job postings outside the technology sector seeking data-literate candidates and many lower-skilled roles demanding basic data literacy skills. 

Meanwhile the lack of data-driven skills could have a severe impact on the UK economy - costing as much as £2billion annually.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Dan Pell, General Manager and Senior Vice President for EMEA at Tableau commented: “Although lockdown disrupted skills learning, we know that there was already a problem with data skills education. This seriously limits career opportunities for young people right across the country, and those who aren’t able to demonstrate data skills will be at the back of the jobs queue. 

“We’re not just talking about skills for jobs in the tech industry here; we’re talking about skills used daily in almost every job - the confidence to handle and understand data. Building back better is a unique opportunity for a resetting of priorities when it comes to ensuring our children are best prepared for life beyond school.”

As well as feeling unprepared for work, the study also found that 80% of pupils would like schools to work more closely with businesses to make education more relevant to employers.  

Dan Pell added: “At Tableau, we know it’s not just the responsibility of schools and colleges to teach pupils the digital skills they need - but future employers too. For this reason, we have free data literacy e-learning courses for young people and adults, to help anyone learn the foundational data skills they need for the ever-evolving digital requirements of employers.”

Tableau free e-learning courses provide an introduction to data skills and are accessible from any device with an internet connection. Students who have completed courses can add them to job application forms and university and college applications.


Research methodology

The survey by Vitreous World, commissioned by Tableau, was conducted to gain insight into UK pupils and their understanding of employer wants and sentiment towards data analysis. The quantitative survey was conducted in May - June 2021, at a +/- 3.1% margin of error, and interviewed 1,005 students in the UK, with equal representation across years 10, 11, 12 and 13.

About Tableau, a Salesforce company

Tableau helps people see and understand data. Tableau’s self-service analytics platform empowers people of any skill level to work with data. From individuals and non-profits to government agencies and the Fortune 500, tens of thousands of customers around the world rely on Tableau’s advanced analytics capabilities to make impactful, data-driven decisions. For more information, please visit www.tableau.com.

About Salesforce

Salesforce is the global leader in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), bringing companies closer to their customers in the digital age. Founded in 1999, Salesforce enables companies of every size and industry to take advantage of powerful technologies—cloud, mobile, social, internet of things, artificial intelligence, voice and blockchain—to create a 360-degree view of their customers. For more information about Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), visit: www.salesforce.com

About Vitreous World

Vitreous World is a leading consultancy delivering global data solutions to marketing and media industry stakeholders. The core team currently has over 200 years of collective research knowledge and is the home of trusted data. The experienced team has founded – or joined – some of the industry’s leading accreditation schemes including being founders of the Public Relations and Communications Association Research Best Practice Committee, and a Market Research Society Company Partner. For more information, please visit www.vitreousworld.com.