‘Skill-shortage vacancies’ a challenge for businesses

The challenge that many businesses are facing in trying to get the right people for their workforce has been detailed in a UKCES Employer Skills Survey.

Of the 91,200 employers surveyed, 19% had a least one vacancy, up from 15% in 2013.

“Skill-shortage vacancies” (vacancies that are hard to fill due to a lack of skilled applicants) present a growing challenge for business owners looking to fill their vacancies. 6% of employers had at least 1 skill-shortage vacancy, an increase from 4% in 2013.

86% reported that they had a fully proficient workforce, while the impact of skill gaps continued to affect smaller businesses. The remaining 14% have a current gap in skills in their workforce, and UKCES estimates this equates to around 1.4 million staff not being fully proficient in their role.

The survey also found:

  • 8% had difficulty retaining staff in specific jobs
  • 2 million workers reported to be under-utilised, leading to missed opportunities to increase performance and productivity
  • 66% had funded or arranged training and development for their staff
  • total employer expenditure on training increased by 6% between 2013 and 2015, from £43.0 billion to £45.4 billion.

Seamus Nevin, head of employment and skills policy at the Institute of Directors, said:

“Businesses are committed to training and developing their staff, but with demand for skills on the rise, we need to make sure that the apprenticeship levy has the flexibility required for firms to continue to train according to their needs.

“In the short-term, the government needs to ensure that employers can continue to get access to the skills they need from abroad. In the longer run, schools need to get careers guidance right so that young people and parents are aware of the opportunities in new and emerging sectors of the economy.”

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