The Skills Shortage: Expectations vs Reality

February 26, 2018eps_admin

There have been plenty of news reports and articles recently about the shortage of skilled workers and how the majority of sectors are experiencing skilled labour shortages.

There is no doubt that in the UK we are currently struggling to recruit in some sectors but is it really as bad as we think?

Official figures released in November 2017 have shown an increase in the number of EU citizens leaving Britain. The truth is, the majority of these EU citizens have highly sought after skill sets therefore it is essential that the UK looks to address the skills shortage gap from our home grown workforce. Brexit is only partly to blame for these citizens leaving the country, contrary to popular beliefs. The uncertainty around the economic future of the United Kingdom and also the loss of worth on the pound to euro, have also contributed. Put simply, the UK is no longer an attractive place to work compared to recent years.

To help upskill the UK workforce there have been calls for the Government to step up and increase the funding available for qualifications and courses. The Government has responded, pledging a further £500m for technical education. In the long term, this will help increase the number of workers available with the right skills.

The care sector is particularly feeling the struggle from the skills shortage with 33,000 nurses leaving the NHS each year. The care sector cannot keep up with the demand for staff. This is causing a knock on effect to the quality of care. Estimates suggest the workforce needs to grow by 2.6% every year until 2035 and the vacancy rate for nurses has more than doubled since 2013. Whilst the demand for staff is clearly obvious, there have been suggestions that the local councils have not done enough to stop the issues snowballing. Local authorities spent 5.3% less on care in 2017 than in 2011. With this in mind, are the authorities taking this issue as seriously as they ought too?

But the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 1975 (Office for National Statistics). So if more people than ever are in work are we really experiencing a crisis?

It has also been reported recently that the skills shortage may actually be good for Recruitment Agencies! It is getting harder for businesses to recruit talent directly so more and more employers are turning to recruitment agencies to help address their recruitment requirements and use their expertise and network of candidates.

The skills shortage could also mean good news for candidates. Businesses are having to offer higher wages, better bonuses etc… in order to attract the calibre of candidates they need.

The full extent to which the UK is challenged by this skills shortage, remains to be seen but at present there are a mix of threats and opportunities that should be considered and addressed.