It is amazing that with such high global unemployment that skills shortages is a recurring theme amongst employers.
Overwhelmingly, businesses in the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, UK and Australia all list skilled labour as their most pressing employment issue. This can range from agricultural and food processing workers in Australia through to bench joiners and steel fabricators in the UK. Some shortages are universal – care vacancies remain high and finding a welder in Western Europe without a Polish accent next to impossible.
One of the major reasons for a shortage of skilled labour is the problem of ambition. Too few young people who could become welders and fitters view the positions as desirable. As a result, they do not acquire the skills, either because they reach the white-collar workforce or fail and join the bottom of the workforce.
To deal with this issue business and government need to recognise the skills gaps that exist today and will increase tomorrow and invest accordingly.
The second major issue limiting skilled labour numbers is that available skilled workers cannot reach prospective employers. Either, they are unable or unwilling to relocate domestically to the area they are needed, or government immigration and integration policies are in place which make importing labour from overseas impractical, despite the obvious need.
The best way to deal with this problem in the short-term is for governments to improve their immigration policies and provide incentives for companies to train workers for these positions. Here the UK is more enlightened than some as most skills shortages can be filled by enterprising Polish workers but this should be viewed as a short term solution.
If these two issues are not addressed meaningfully, global businesses will be affected – as technicians, electricians and lorry drivers are harder and more expensive to hire. By the time governments recognize the issue, global growth may have been effected.
Author: Chris Slay
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