As hiring managers are aware, the UK has been facing a skills shortage for some time and now combined with the “great resignation”, we’re seeing less than one applicant for each vacancy on average. This is the worldwide phenomenon where millions across the world are quitting or changing jobs. Now we have plenty of jobs but not enough people with the necessary skills to fill them.
To add to this, employers have cut their learning and development budgets. Pre-pandemic in 2019, the Department for Education found that the proportion of workers deemed to be not ‘fully proficient’ in their jobs by their employer rose to 4.5%. That is 1.25 million employees that lack the necessary skills despite working in the industry.
The 2019 Employer Skills Survey highlighted that training delivered that year was the lowest of the decade. Less than 61% of employers offered training, a significant reduction from 66% two years prior.
At the time the DfE commented that businesses making such choices were essentially ‘shooting themselves in the foot’. While cutting budgets may be in every way necessary, it is certainly in an employer’s best interests to invest in their staff as research carried out by the Open University found that the cost of filling skills shortages would cost employers in the UK £6.6bn. A figure that was produced in 2019, triple that of 2017.
At the time redundancies had reached their record highest, surpassing levels seen in the last recession. Approximately 314,000 were laid off while almost a third of jobs in total were affected by lockdowns in one way or another. Those that were made redundant have since retrained and many such as those that worked in retail, hospitality, events, and catering previously have no ambition of returning to their sectors.
In another attempt to claw back, many businesses revoked and delayed the graduate schemes that they had offered, affecting as many as 28% of students. Those who had worked hard to earn themselves the positions, found themselves forced to consider alternatives. In a survey carried out by Prospects, one of the UK’s largest graduate careers websites, half said that they would consider doing a postgraduate course while 30% said that they would think about a career change.
According to the Office for National Statistics over 1.3 million vacancies were posted recently (up from 343,000 during the lows of the pandemic), yet 1,550,000 are officially out of work. The real figures could even potentially be higher as there are a lot of people not accounted for in this figure. This is thought to be closer to 2,340,000.
To support these individuals falling into the risk of long-term unemployment, the government has invested in initiatives to help them gain the skills necessary for the workplace. The Lifetime Skills Guarantee and the new funds known as the UKSPF and UKCRF which replaced the ESF (European Social Fund) are examples of this.
Still there is major work to be done to close the skills shortage that we’re seeing, employers can make a difference by starting with their staff. While it incurs additional costs, L&D can improve productivity, profit margins, and reduce staff turnover, yielding a 300% return on investment.
We as a recruitment consultancy stand by a 100% recruitment retention rate and pride ourselves on the ability to fill 80% of the vacancies that we’re given. Competencies that we have been able to leverage with our 45 years of experience and industry knowledge.
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