UK skills & talent shortages rise 130% in four years

Published: 14 April 2016

UK skills & talent shortages rise 130% in four years

UK employers are facing a talent crisis as skills shortages have increased by 130% in the past four years, according to new research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

Despite an increase in appointments and modest economic growth in the UK, thousands of vacancies are left unfulfilled because employers cannot find workers with the skills, talent or knowledge to fill these spots. Last year for example, it was reported that the UK had twice as many opportunities as available applicants. 

In fact, figures by the UKCES report shows so-called “skills shortage vacancies” now make up nearly a quarter of all vacant positions left un-appointed. “With global competition intensifying, the UK urgently needs to boost its productivity,” Lesley Giles, Deputy Director said, and added “To do that, we need people with the right skills.”  Commissioner, Douglas McCormick highlighted that “the UK has witnessed exceptionally strong job creation in the past few years, creating jobs at a faster rate than any other EU country” 

Meanwhile the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) has revealed that almost three quarters of manufacturers have faced difficulties when attempting to recruit skilled staff, with the situation expected to worsen over the next three years, according to their latest report. Tim Thomas, Director of Employment and Skills Policy said "Despite multiple warnings about the UK’s yawning skills gap, the dial hasn’t moved since 2012. Manufacturers continue to struggle to find the right people with the right skills – undoubtedly this has led to lost opportunities for employers, would-be employees and the UK economy.”

This situation is further compounded by other recent reports of the UK labour market experiencing a 15.1% growth in job vacancies in Q1 2016, compared to Q1 2015, despite economic concerns surrounding the EU referendum, a wavering steel industry and a weakened sterling.

Ultimately therefore, employers who want to successfully appoint the required talent to drive growth and take advantage of the current economic up-turn and rising confidence will need to be pro-active and imaginative in their future recruitment campaigns.   They will also need to have a strong, transparent and candid relationship with a leading recruiter in the specific functional area and/or sector.

Berwick Partners leads the way in recruiting senior leadership positions across both the Private and Public sectors regionally, nationally and internationally, supporting organisations making key appointments, which have a critical impact upon their business, future and success.

Simon Walton is Manging Partner of the Consumer and Retail Practice at Berwick Partners

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