Seeds of UK Recovery Need Skills to Flourish

Posted on: 04.07.2012    15:10:12

Seeds of recovery in the UK could be thwarted by skills shortages? As an international recruitment agency we are seeing the UK repeat the errors seen elsewhere. It doesn’t help to say we told you so but all markets eventually turn and you need to be ahead of the game rather than snookered behind the black!

In 2010 and 2011 UK manufacturing had its head beneath the parapet concentrating on survival whilst the rest of the world was talking of skills shortages with the BRIC economies, plus Australia and parts of Asia moaning about skills shortages Europe as a whole was disinterested, except for engineers in Germany.

Now as always management have left it so late to react coupled with a failure to plan that the UK is now beginning to feel the pain of skills shortages.

According to a report covering 74,000 companies by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), showed that only mid-sized companies reported an increase in the intensity of so-called “skills shortage vacancies” over the past year, where employers cannot find the candidates they need to fill roles and many appear to be clueless on how to go about sorting out the issues.

England’s mid-sized firms are seen as engines of growth for the whole economy, with a focus on exporting and high-quality products and services. But nine in 10 firms warn that struggling to recruit people for available jobs has a detrimental impact on their ability to expand.

Neil McLean, commissioner at the UKCES, said: “There are worrying signs that the country is experiencing a skills ‘squeezed middle’, with core nucleus of hungry, medium-sized firms finding it difficult to employ staff with the skills they need.

“As a group, these mid-sized firms are weathering the recession pretty well – indeed, they have continued to recruit over the past four years. They are undoubtedly our best hope for growth. Yet these businesses are often overlooked by policy-makers in favour of entrepreneurial start-ups or huge multinationals.”

The CBI agreed mid-sized firms needed specific help to tackle their skills needs. But as Chris Slay said “ it needs to be put in a global context. We have both Australia and Canada fishing for trade skills in our back yard offering packages that the UK is as yet unwilling to compete. The famous Polish worker or those from elsewhere in Eastern Europe know their international value and we are regularly turned down by skilled Polish workers who prefer Norway, Holland or Germany before the UK with the more adventurous or best skilled willing to look further afield.
Internationally there are five global skills shortages

  • Engineering
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Natural Resources and
  • Information Technology

To find solutions to skills shortages in these areas the UK has to be prepared to compete internationally and to pay for the services rendered.”


Author: Chris Slay

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