Skills shortage rises 130 per cent in four years

Research commissioned by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) found that despite the modest economic growth, employers unable to find people with appropriate skills or knowledge has risen by 130 per cent.

The figures show ‘skills shortage vacancies’ now making up nearly a quarter of all job openings, increasing from 91,000 in 2011 to 209,000 in 2015.

The research also shows that whilst most sectors are suffering from skills shortages, over a third of vacancies in electricity, gas and water and construction are due to skills shortages, with transport and manufacturing not far behind.

The study also includes an Employer Skills Survey which calibrated the responses of over 90,000 establishments throughout the UK. It found that: the financial services sector has seen the sharpest rise in skills shortages, rising from 10 per cent in 2013 to 21 per cent in 2015; time management is a significant issue, with nearly 60 per cent of establishments who reported a skills gap saying that their staff lacked the ability to manage their own time and prioritise tasks; and that two million workers are under-utilised across the UK – that is, they have skills and experience which are not being used in their current job.

Lesley Giles, deputy director at the UKCES, said: “With global competition intensifying, the UK urgently needs to boost its productivity. To do that, we need people with the right skills. But that’s only half the story. Creating good jobs that produce high-quality, bespoke goods and services is just as important. The Employer Skills Survey provides a wealth of data to enable businesses, training providers and policy makers to make informed decisions about what needs to be done to boost jobs, productivity and prosperity throughout the UK."

Douglas McCormick, chief executive of the Sweett Group and a commissioner at UKCES, added: “The UK has witnessed exceptionally strong job creation in the past few years, creating jobs at a faster rate than any other EU country. However, this growth has been accompanied by stalling productivity levels. Evidence from the Employer Skills Survey suggests that developing the skills of the existing workforce to taking advantage of new technology and digitisation will be critical if the UK is to finally close the productivity gap.”