28 January 2016

Skills shortages across the UK have left thousands of vacancies unfilled with many vocationally trained industries suffering the most.

New research from UK Commission for Employment and Skills shows that despite a surge in job openings since 2011 the number of vacant positions has risen by 130% in four years due to the lack of skilled workers available.

The Employer Skills Survey (ESS) published today reveals that “skills shortage vacancies” now account for almost a quarter of all job vacancies, rising from 91,000 in 2011 to 209,000 in 2015.

These skills shortages are particularly prevalent in the electricity, gas and water, and construction sectors with the transport and manufacturing industries also suffering from a lack of skilled workers.

While the majority of employers reported that they had a fully proficient workforce, around one in seven employers reported skills gaps within their organisation, with approximately 1.4 million staff lacking proficiency in their current role.

The most common skills employees are lacking are those often described as “soft skills” or personal skills, including time management, teamwork and customer skills.

This news will come as no surprise to many, as research earlier this month showed that almost a quarter of employees and more than two thirds of employers believe soft skills are overlooked.

Paul Eeles, Chief Executive of emfec, responded to the report by saying:

“While it is great to hear that the recovering economy is putting more people into work, we remain concerned about the high level of skills shortage vacancies which can easily be filled if young people are given the right advice and training, combined with basic employability skills.

“Particularly in the East Midlands, we are seeing construction and related industries begin to recover economically but they are still facing the same issues of an ageing workforce and a lack of young skilled workers.

“The government has promised 3 million new apprenticeship starts by 2020 but more needs to be done to bring this ambition down to the level of the students. That is why we welcome the Education Committee’s inquiry into careers guidance for young people, and the Education Secretary’s commitment to make apprenticeship careers information in schools compulsory.”

The ESS is widely regarded as being one of the largest and most comprehensive surveys of its kind in the world, gathering data from over 90,000 establishments and covering a wide range of issues from skills gaps and shortages to training needs and under-employment.