A rich treasure trove of labour market and skills intelligence from over 18,000 employers…

Today sees the release of the UK Employer Perspectives Survey 2016, conducted by IFF for DFE, a rich treasure trove of labour market and skills intelligence – giving invaluable insight into the views of more than 18,000 UK employers on their use and engagement with education, skills and training, including apprenticeships.

The EPS report should be key reading for a huge range of stakeholders – if you’re involved in strategic and operational decision making and need to understand employer motivations and behaviour in the area of skills development – this is the report for you. For those working on apprenticeships, Technical Education reform, and in colleges and LEPs -.there is plenty to get your teeth into.

Unusually, I’ve seen both sides of this particular project – I was the client for the survey at UKCES before it moved across to DFE, working on questionnaire design and reporting requirements…when I moved to IFF last year I had to deliver on those requirements, leading the team which produced the final report!

I was also the client for the survey back in 2010. It has moved on a lot since then, though EPS continues to track change over time on some key measures, it also addresses new and evolving policy issues. It still complements the UK Employer Skills Survey (ESS) series (the 2017 iteration is currently in field, led by IFF), which delivers full assessment UK workforce skills every two years, but new questions such as those on apprenticeships, have the potential to serve as a valuable baseline against which policy can be assessed in future years.

This years’ report addresses a number of high level questions, including:

  • How do you support the pipeline of talent into businesses and entry routes into employment?
  • How do you increase the take-up of apprenticeships?
  • How do you stimulate employer input into the design, delivery and content of skills initiatives?

For the first time this year we also collected information on the attitudes and priorities of employers which might inform their decisions regarding training choices and investment in skills.

Interestingly, these new questions show that the UK still faces big challenges in terms of employers raising their ambition and demand for skills, only half (51%) of employers felt investing in management skills was a top priority. Given the link between management practices and productivity (Tamkin and Luanaigh 2016), this raises questions about how receptive UK’s employers might be to rethinking the ways in which they can ensure they have the skilled workforce they need to maximise their productivity and capability.

Finally, one of the things I love about the UK Employer Perspectives Survey series – as well as its breadth, has to be the ability to compare across sectors, countries, regions and local areas within the UK. In addition to the UK findings presented in the report, there is a wealth of further data available for more detailed analysis from the survey in the form of slide packs, tables and microdata – so you can explore the data for yourself and make full use of the findings.

The UK Employer Perspectives Report published by DFE can be found here:


If you’d prefer support analysing findings for your purposes, or delving deeper with more detailed qualitative work we’d be happy to discuss your requirements.

Contact genna.kik@iffresearch.com for more information.