Majority of businesses believe skills shortage is imminent

Tuesday 12 August 2014

The majority of British businesses believe a skills shortage is imminent, according to research from The Prince's Trust and HSBC.

Seventy-three per cent said they think the skills crisis will hit the UK within the next three years. Already, 32 per cent have reported a skills shortage at entry level and 53 per cent said they are experiencing difficulties when filling vacancies.

Martina Milburn CBE, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, said: "It is deeply concerning that employers are struggling to fill vacancies when we have hundreds of thousands of unemployed young people desperate for work. The current economic recovery is encouraging, but in order to sustain this growth, UK plc needs to invest in the next generation to avoid a skills vacuum in the future, which threatens to hamper economic growth."

The talent shortage is causing contractors across multiple industries to be in high demand. Self-employed professionals are currently plugging the gap, giving businesses access to the flexible skills they need to complete key projects.

However, over the long-term there will need to be a more sustainable solution and there is widespread belief that the answer lies in giving young people vital skills.

Seventy-two per cent told The Prince's Trust and HSBC that recruiting youngsters into the workforce will be vital to avert the skills crisis.

This is a sentiment supported by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which has recently launched a Learning to Work programme.

Katerina Rüdiger, head of skills and policy campaigns at the CIPD, said: "We agree that greater employer engagement with young people is vital, not only to help overcome youth unemployment but also to ensure that organisations have the talent they need to succeed."

Companies will need to be able to increase their capacity with the relevant skills sooner rather than later if they want to be able to capitalise on the current economic conditions.

Seventy-one per cent of businesses have noted increased demand for their services over the last 12 months. Indeed, 63 per cent claim that they are now growing faster than this time last year.

However, the skills shortage means that for many, this growth isn't necessarily a good thing. Sixty-four per cent admitted that faster growth will cause a skills gap within their organisation.

The ageing workforce is also keeping employers up at night and in certain industries, contractors with over 30-years of experience make up the majority of their workforce.

The Prince's Trust is trying to avert disaster by helping 58,000 unemployed people into work via vocational training in sectors with identified skills shortages. These include construction, retail and logistics.

By Victoria McDonnell

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