Firm to invest to counter skills shortage

Wednesday 12 November 2014

With the skills shortage putting pressure on UK businesses, many are choosing to invest in training to ensure that they can counter this issue.

According to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), 92 per cent of businesses have said that there is a skills shortage in at least one key area of their workforce. It published these findings in its 2014 Workforce Survey: Training and Skills. A total of 3,000 businesses were surveyed for the report.

In recent times, limited company contractors and umbrella company contractors have been called into businesses to plug the skills gap. Despite this, there have often been situations where there have not been enough contractors available to deal with the demand among firms.

The most common areas where there are skills shortages are leadership and management (according to 33 per cent), planning and organisation (26 per cent), languages (35 per cent), creativity (20 per cent) and computer literacy (23 per cent).

To combat this issue, 80 per cent of businesses surveyed say they are planning to invest in training and 39 per cent say they intend to invest more than £500 per staff member while 41 per cent say they plan to invest up to this amount.

However, barriers for businesses still remain in the form of cost, staff availability and a lack of suitable courses. Fifty per cent of firms surveyed said cost was the biggest barrier to training investment, 31 per cent said it is a challenge to free up staff to participate in training and 19 per cent said there is a lack of suitable courses.

To help with this area, companies that are seeking guidance on appropriate training courses from private training providers, sector based bodies and further education colleges; these are sought by 71 per cent, 38 per cent and 35 per cent respectively.

Small firms are also looking to increase the amount of money they put into training over the next 12 months. BCC found that 35 per cent of firms with nine or fewer staff or had set aside over £500 for each employee.

On-the-job training is planned to be given in 78 per cent of businesses, 59 per cent wanted staff to learn more about health and safety, 56 per cent planned to offer first aid training and 56 per cent wanted to give job specific training.

Speaking about these results, president of BCC Nora Senior, said: “Businesses recognise that investing in training can drive higher productivity and increased profits. In addition to specialised training, however, our findings make it clear that investment in leadership and management skills are crucial to enhance strategic thinking, foster innovation and motivate a firm’s employees.

“It is good to see that most businesses are taking a proactive approach by investing in their existing workforce. Four in ten tell us they are planning to invest £500 or more per member of staff to address skills shortages.

"Yet we need far more companies to reach this level, which will only happen if we break down the barriers to investing in training."

By Victoria McDonnell

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