A marked increase in skills shortages, could be holding back the UK’s economic recovery, according to new research published yesterday. Sectors that are dependent on high skill sets include manufacturing and financial services. Both sectors are being affected and disrupted by digitization. The report from the U.K’s government’s skills experts, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, finds that the number of job vacancies in England has returned to pre-recession levels. However, so-called “skills shortage vacancies” – where businesses cannot find recruits with the skills required – are growing twice as fast. They reported a total of 559,600 job vacancies in England – up 45% per cent from 2009. However, skills shortage vacancies nearly doubled over the same period, increasing from 63,100 to 124,800. Overall, skills shortage vacancies – which occur when employers cannot find people with the right skills and qualifications to do the job – now account for more than one in five of all vacancies up from one in six in 2009.
Douglas McCormick, a Commissioner at UKCES and managing director of the UK rail business at Atkins said: “Whilst the rise in the number of vacancies is a good sign that the economy is recovering, there’s a real possibility that businesses might not be able to make the most of the upturn because they don’t have the right people. “This shows that businesses need to start thinking about planning their talent pipeline now – not waiting until they are unable to fulfil contracts because of a lack of skilled staff. “Worryingly, these figures show that the percentage of staff in the UK receiving training from their employer hasn’t changed significantly for a decade.
There are also signs that some employers might be trying to solve their skills problems by choosing to recruit highly-skilled and qualified staff to do very basic jobs. Weighing in on the debate, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady thinks employers and governments have to do much more:
“It’s great that more businesses want to recruit. But with jobseekers outnumbering vacancies by four to one, it’s hugely frustrating that across the UK a large number of jobs go unfilled because of local skills shortages. “It’s also concerning that so few employers are recruiting directly from our schools, colleges and universities, especially as those that do are very positive about taking young people on. “Employers, unions and government must each play their part in tackling the UK’s damaging skills shortages. Businesses must increase their training budgets, government must expand and improve the quality of apprenticeships, and union learning reps must continue to remind staff that it’s never too late to learn new skills.”
Hayden Richards is Contributor of IntelligentHQ. He specialises in finance, trading, investment, and technology, with expertise in both buy-side, sell-side. Contributing and advising various global corporations, Hayden is a thought leader, researching on global regulatory subjects, digital, social media strategies and new trends for Businesses, Capital Markets and Financial Services.
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