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  • Workplace training down by 10% since 2011
  • Young and lower qualified workers hit hardest

The TUC today warned that the UK is facing a looming skills crisis after new analysis revealed a sharp drop in workplace training.

The TUC says that with automation and new technology changing the way many work, millions will need the chance to re-skill over the next 20 years.

The TUC study shows that workers are, on average, receiving 10% less training a year than in 2011.

For young workers (-16%) and lower qualified workers (-20%) the trend is even worse.

Young workers, those most in need, have lost the equivalent of a day’s training a year.

The new report builds on an earlier study which showed that workplace training has fallen significantly over the past 20 years.

The Training Trends in Britain report also reveals that:

  • Employee training courses are becoming shorter with more than a half lasting (56%) less than a week, compared to around a third (34%) in 1996
  • The proportion of off-the-job training has plummeted from 73% in 1996 to 53% in 2018
  • Union members are more likely to get training, with 37% saying they accessed training in the last 3 months compared to 22% of non-union members

But with huge cuts to adult education and fewer courses being run for workers, the UK is on a course for a massive skills deficit.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The world of work is going to change massively over the coming years. If employers don’t increase workplace training, Britain faces a looming skills and productivity crisis.

“Everyone must be given the training they need to keep up with changes in technology.”

Editors note

- Unionlearn, the TUC’s learning and skills organisation, will be holding its annual conference on Thursday 11 July in central London. Keynote speakers include Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, and the Rt Hon Anne Milton MP, Minister of State for Skills and Apprenticeships. More information is available at

- The TUC is calling for:

  • A new lifelong learning account open to all adults that would incorporate fully funded entitlements to enable all adults to attain a minimum skills level and to access retraining opportunities.
  • A right to a mid-life skills/career review for workers and development of a high-quality skills/career advice service for all adults.
  • Reform of the right to request time to train so that it is changed to a new strengthened entitlement to paid time off for education and training.

- The Training Trends in Britain report draws on data from the government’s quarterly Labour Force Survey and other large datasets, including the UK Household Longitudinal Study, the Skills & Employment Survey, and the Employer Skills Survey

- To read the full Training Trends in Britain report follow this link:

Decline in training since 2011 by group

Drop in time spent in training since 2011



Young worker (16-34)


Lower qualified worker (below GCSE/Level 2 qualifications)


Worker with mid-level qualifications (GCSE/A level/Level 2/3)


Source – Quarterly Labour Force survey
The drop is based on a measurement of hours spent in training over a four-week reference period.

Hours spent in training in 2018 (average per annum)

Hours spent in training in 2011 (average per annum)

Hours lost between 2011-2018





Young worker




Lower qualified worker (below GCSE/Level 2 qualifications)




- Congress 2019 will be held in the Brighton Centre from Sunday 8 September to Wednesday 11 September. Free media passes can be obtained by visiting and completing an online form. Applications must be in by noon on Tuesday 27 August. Any received later than that will be processed in Brighton and will cost £75 +VAT.

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

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