Skills crisis

Skills Crisis Ahead

As Brexit gets ever-nearer, and the world of work changes with technological advances, the UK is heading towards a skills shortage that will hit employers hard…

The UK is falling behind its European counterparts when it comes to education levels and training in the workplace, according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

As Britain heads towards a future out of Europe, the CIPD’s report – From ‘inadequate’ to ‘outstanding’: making the UK’s skills system world-class – shows that the UK lags behind most OECD (The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries in at least four major skillsets.

You can download and read the full report here [CIPD Policy Report April 2017].

To put this in perspective – the UK and Northern Ireland are at the bottom of 19 countries in terms of young people’s computer-solving skills and in the bottom four for literacy and numeracy for 16- to 24-year-olds.

The research also shows that UK employers spend less on training than the other main EU countries. Back in 2010 the average cost was 266 per employee compared to 511 across the EU – and this disparity is only getting wider.

Employers have been highlighting this lack of skills and the lack of development for more than a decade, but little practical action appears to have taken place. The CIPD has already called for the government to put skills at the core of the national industrial strategy, as well as looking for organisations to invest in more training in the workplace and to look to increase their skills bases. This also means that HR professionals will have a major role to play in identifying where there are skills deficits, and devising strategies to compensate.

When it comes to digital skills, the problem is that some of the jobs that are available now hadn’t really been thought of 15 years ago – just consider social media and digital content vacancies. When Facebook first began 13 years ago, how many people would have imagined that it would be possible to make a living running a social media strategy for a company!

And as technology advances, there are going to be more – not less – jobs that we could not have imagined. HR staff can help by staying on top of advances and identifying where training existing staff will help productivity or where it is necessary to being in employees skilled in certain areas.

It is not only in digital skills that the UK is lacking either – a recent CBI survey [Independent: UK migration figures underscore acute risk of labour shortage, leading business groups warn – 24 August 2017] suggests that the skills shortage in the services sector – is the worst it has been for 19 years. And with the likely exit of many Eastern European nationals – who are at the heart of a number of our industries such as construction and care – who is going to be building all the new homes the government is planning or caring for our elderly in a nation where we are all living longer than ever before?

“The loss of these vital skills should concern us all,” says Matthew Percival, head of employment at the Confederation of British Industry.

Vocational training is necessary to plug this gap – and it needs to happen quickly – with Brexit happening in the very near future, we need to get people trained and ready to work as soon as possible.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 07767 308717 or contact us via our website.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.