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7 January 2014

The talent pool is shrinking

Despite England being home to 5 of the top 20 universities in the World, its talent pool has become far from world-class. According to the recent Survey of Adult Skills conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the skills proficiency of the English workforce is falling behind the rest of the 23 countries that took part in the survey.

With English adults aged 55 to 65 being among the three highest performing countries for this age group in terms of literacy and numeracy skills, and those aged 16 to 24 being among the bottom three, the survey found that England is the only economically developed country whose retirement-approaching generation is higher skilled than the one entering the workforce. Furthermore, the OECD reported that, once supplying 8% of the world’s top talent, Britain now only supplies 4%.

Although this does not necessarily equate to a reduction in skills, it does suggest a decline in relative performance. As other countries’ pool of highly skilled talent increases at a disproportionate rate, along with today’s labour market being more demanding and having greater mobility across international boundaries, the international competitiveness of the English workforce is put at risk.

Reported by the OECD, in order to create a sustainable and strong pool of talent, skills must be continuously developed throughout a person’s life. As the survey discovered, there is a strong positive relationship between skills proficiency and participation in adult learning. With some countries, including Denmark and Finland, having a participation rate in adult education in excess of 60%, and the UK having a rate of just 20%, it is suggested that the UK needs to address its attitude to continuous learning.

Participation in adult learning relies on the culture of learning as well as the provision of opportunities. To maximise and preserve the value of skills, not only do these opportunities need to be provided, but they also need to be relevant to the workplace. Recognising this, arena4finance has developed industry-specific education programmes for the hospitality sector in Financial Management and Revenue Management for its longstanding clients, the Hospitality Professionals Association (HOSPA).

HOSPA’s Education and Training Programmes are structured into 3 stages, each lasting 6 months. To ensure relevance to the workplace and to maximise the benefit to employers, arena4finance produced the programmes' content in collaboration with industry professionals and higher education institutions. Patrick Divall, Area Director of Finance England for Starwood Hotels and Resorts, comments on the Financial Management programme: “It’s the only financial training programme that is specifically designed for our industry and my employees appreciate that it is 100% relevant to them”.

With the OECD reporting that the worldwide job market’s demand for skilled workers rose by 20% compared to just a 10% increase for low and medium skilled workers, it is professional development opportunities like the HOSPA programmes that will ensure the future supply and sustainability of a highly skilled and internationally competitive workforce.

HOSPA is now enrolling for the September 2015 cohort for their Education and Training Programmes in Financial Management and Revenue Management. For further information on the programmes or to enrol, please contact the HOSPA education team at