UK’s Top 5 Skills Shortages

Posted on: 22.10.2012    10:09:27

As an international recruitment agency we are always looking at global skills shortages and how to fill them but there are always skills shortages in every market place. Some will be part of the global mix and others will be local.

With the UK jobless number falling a little to 2.5 million it needs to be remembered that there are still nearly 0.5 million of job vacancies posted where there is a mismatch between required skills and available talent.

Here are details of the areas of current demand going unsatisfied at present:

Care sector: Here we include the whole of Healthcare but  the shortages manifest themselves in different ways. In care homes and domiciliary care the shortages could be said to be acute and are driven solely by the inability/unwillingness to offer a competitive rate of pay owing to margin pressure created by government policies. Sources of Eastern European labour have all but dried up as those available opt for better pay terms in other countries.

Vehicle production: Covered as a separate skills shortage for two reasons. One of the few success stories in modern Britain in rebalancing the economy which has seen Britain’s car industry (albeit foreign owned and here’s another story) move from near oblivion to a position of strength and continuing investment where there is a real struggle to find the skills required to allow production to expand. This has a knock on impact into the car industry support services as well, hampering recovery.

Engineering: Engineering is a global skills shortage and we have been warning Employers in the UK that they need a new strategy to deal with skills shortages. Whilst a few have listened the majority have failed to plan ahead allowing the recession to mask the level of future demand. Now you see daily articles about engineering skills shortages and these run from large civil engineering projects failing to find the trade skills they need through to engineering work shops supporting the motor or oil and gas sectors. Rabbits out of hats is rarely a long term solution but like the rest of the world the UK has been late recognising the implications and investing the time looking at the options. How will either projects like Hinkley Point in Somerset or its contractors find 300 welders with the right skills for a 5 year period when there is already a shortage of these type of skills?

Sewing: This seems a peculiar UK shortage. As manufacturing has moved off shore and sewing skills have gone into rapid decline the diehards hanging on the the UK now face a skills challenge. An ageing workforce and product demanding a high level of hand finishing means demand for these skills has increased from upholstery, equestrian, leather goods as well as high end couture and the accessory market. If ever there was a market that lends itself to trade apprenticeships it would be this one but judging by employer enquiries that is not a short term solution.

IT: Arguably at the root of all modern businesses and the key to future prosperity it is the biggest challenge facing not just the UK and Europe but the world. Outsourcing and emigration and a lack of prioritisation in education has seen the UK slip back. IT’s impact is often not visible unlike an unmanned machine and evidences itself overtime as a reduction in competitiveness as others progress. With global competition employers need to make opportunities attractive and appealing and that is not just about money.


Author: Chris Slay

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