Solving the UK skills shortage

Totaljobs and Robert Walters recently surveyed over 5,000 UK professionals and employers in order to shine a light on the challenges facing British recruiters.

The resulting report, ‘Solving the UK Skills Shortage’ has revealed that two thirds of recruiting businesses expect to struggle to find the candidates they need. What’s more, half of UK employers believe that Britain’s departure from the European Union will worsen the problem.

The impact of the skills shortage

Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that while unemployment levels are low, so too are UK productivity levels, which sit some 20% lower than forecasted a decade ago. This threatens the UK’s economic growth as the output per hour worked trailing behind that of the rest of the G7.

In essence, employers are battling a productivity crisis while operating in a candidate-led market, whereby the most skilled, experienced and sought-after candidates can now expect a range of offers when deciding their next career move. Considering that 80% of employers are expecting their workload to increase in 2018, businesses are left with an even greater challenge in finding the talent their business needs to thrive.

All the while, Britain is negotiating its departure from the European Union. In November 2017, The Office of National Statistics revealed that the year following the referendum saw the largest drop in long-term migration to Britain since recording began. Over three quarters of the fall in net migration is due to EU citizens leaving the UK, while the number of international professionals coming to the UK has also decreased.

This is perhaps why one in four employers believes that Britain is not ready to compete on a global stage following Brexit.

Where is the impact felt?

The biggest skills shortage is being reported when hiring for junior and mid-management roles, where over half of recruiters are reporting a significant shortage. This is a legacy of the 2008 financial crisis, when graduate recruitment stalled; meaning that the number of skilled, experience people at this level is lower than it would have been in previous years.

Key ways to combat the skills shortage

As part of our research, we asked employers and recruiters to share the methods they are using to overcome the skills shortage and how they have fared in relation to improving productivity.

Leaning on contract workers

6 in 10 businesses are leaning on temporary or contract workers to fill the skills gap.

  • 8 in 10 businesses believe gig economy workers are more productive than permanent staff, while offering the employer flexibility and the option to scale operations up and down.
  • This trend is supported by a 24% increase in the number of contract roles advertise on totaljobs since last year.

Investing in training

Half of employers are investing in training to upskill their current staff.

Harvesting transferable skills

28% of businesses are looking to other industries in order to pinpoint candidates with transferable skills.

  • Half of UK workers told us that they are open to working in a different industry. These candidates are often able to bring skills, and different approaches that would otherwise go unharnessed.

Improving career education

Half of UK workers believe in order to future-proof the talent pool, employers should work closer with local schools, colleges and universities to educate students on potential career paths, and valuable skills they can obtain.

This can also service to fuel work placements and apprenticeships to further drive the growth of a young, skilled workforce.

Download the report

Find out more about the UK Skills Shortage and how you can hire the talent your business needs.

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