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Skills shortage may curb growth

A growing shortage of skills “may constrain economic growth”, research from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has suggested.

The UKCES 2013 Employer Skills Survey (ESS) found that skills-shortage vacancies increased from 91,400 in 2011 to 146,000 in 2013, rising at a faster rate than the increase in job vacancies.

The ESS findings reveal:

  • Skill-shortage vacancies account for 22 per cent of all vacancies, up from 16 per cent in 2011
  • Almost three in 10 vacancies are reported to be hard-to-fill
  • Two thirds of employers are providing training but total training investment by employers has fallen by £2.4 billion since 2011
  • Skills shortages are most commonly found in skilled trades, such as electricians or car mechanics.

Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills at the Confederation of British Industry, said:

“The flip side of faster growth is an escalating skills crisis. While this isn’t surprising, it makes it all the more urgent to close the skills gaps in science, technology, engineering and maths to support the recovery.

“We must expand access to high quality apprenticeships and other ‘learn while you earn’ schemes and ensure that these meet the need of both businesses and employees.”

The findings came as the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) called on the Government to address the “skills mismatch” it says many employers are facing. In its Skills and Employment Manifesto, the BCC called for:

  • Focus on “employability skills” in the assessment of schools
  • Investment in careers education for young people
  • Support for SMEs in offering apprenticeships and training
  • Clear and consistent qualifications in literacy, numeracy, computing and foreign languages.

“Government, schools, colleges and employers must all work together in the coming months and years to ensure that the UK has a workforce that is fit for purpose,” said Norah Senior, president of the BCC.

“Failure to do so risks consigning generation after generation to a less prosperous future.”