Are skills gaps and Brexit going to be the downfall of UK businesses?

Are skills gaps and Brexit going to be the downfall of UK businesses?


We know. There always seems to be some article or another about the imminent skills gap (closely linked to Brexit).

There’s a potential danger that when something is debated publicly for so long, it becomes background noise. Perhaps that’s why organisations like The City & Guilds Group partner with Emsi and Censuswide so that it reopens the issue and ignites further debate. As it’s an important one to be had.

In their survey, entitled People Power, they interviewed over 1,000 C-Suite employers in the UK. Nine out of 10 employers said they already struggle to recruit the skilled staff they need. What’s more, two thirds of UK employers are saying that the skills gap in their business is likely to get worse, or remain the same, in the next three to five years (and given that most industries are expected to grow between now and 2024 that doesn’t bode well).

47% of employers said an inability to recruit skilled workers was the top internal factor to impact productivity, whilst 46% said Brexit was the top external factor. That’s perhaps not surprising, given 85% said that they currently employ talent from the EU.

So, what’s the solution? The research suggests that employers want more support from the Government (45%) and the UK education system (45%) to get the skills they need. Yet they’re not passing the buck entirely. 45% say that they need to take responsibility for skills development too.

They also recognised apprenticeships as a potential solution, with 38% of employers saying that it’s the role they plan to recruit for most in the next three to five years. And that leadership and management skills is a specific issue for UK employers, with 47% stating that these job levels are the ones they struggle to recruit for most.

Once again, the report carries value in its highlighting the issues at hand. It calls for greater collaboration between employers and the Government to take steps to address the skills shortage.  What we’ve yet to see, after so much admirable beating of the drum, is what’s actually going to happen. As we haven’t got long to wait.

Kirstie Donnelly, Managing Director of City & Guilds and ILM, said: “The UK is facing a skills gaps crisis which, if goes unaddressed, could have a disastrous impact on UK businesses’ ability to compete on a global scale post-Brexit.

‘’While there is a great deal more to be done at a policy level to manage and minimise skills gaps in the future, it is also important that employers are taking steps to shore up their own skills pipelines. Our research found that over a quarter of employers plan to prepare for Brexit by upskilling their current workforce, but more should be considering this route. By offering high quality training on the job, employers not only secure the skilled workforce they need, but they can also boost productivity and increase staff loyalty, retention and engagement.’

Andy Durman, Vice President for UK Operations at Emsi said, “Although the results of this report confirm that the labour market is projected to grow over the coming years, the big question raised by employers is ‘where exactly are we going to find the talent and the skills that we need to grow?’ 

“This might seem to paint a bleak picture, but what it should do is provide an impetus for a whole variety of stakeholders to start collaborating on a much bigger scale to ensure that people are being trained in the skills that are needed. This is especially needful in the wake of Brexit, which has meant that growing homegrown talent is now a necessity, not an option.

“The college, the university, the local economic developer and of course employers themselves – all need to come together to make sure that things like T Levels, Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships are actually working to create the skills system that we all want to see.”

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Share this article

Any questions? Any comments?

Your instant reactions to this article can be posted here.

(Showing 1 - 1 of 1)

paul kitchen Date: Jul 5, 2018

I can't help feeling that asking industry, academia & local development authorities to collaborate is like asking Boris, Jeremy & Sadiq to find things in common. All will have their own agenda and if any initiative is created won't serve the students. There has to be another way, top talent at undergraduate level will lead the way and force change by taking action. In fact they already are - the website link takes you to an active UK e-learning project empowering top business student talent learning the business skills BEFORE they graduate. Details about the new project Students Take The Lead at this link, the password is 'pioneer' - Message me via LinkedIn or Twitter to find out more - Twitter - @paulmkitchen