Almost one in four job vacancies caused by skills shortage, reveals UKCES

Julia Belgutay

News article image

The number of job vacancies unfilled because employers cannot find candidates with the appropriate skills has risen by 130 per cent in four years, according to new research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

The UKCES' employer skills survey, published today, reveals that out of a total of 928,000 job vacancies in 2015, 209,400 (22 per cent) were down to a skills shortage. In 2011, there were just 91,000 so-called skills shortage vacancies.

According to the report, more than a third of vacancies in electricity, gas, water and construction in 2015 were due to skills shortages. The sector which has seen the sharpest rise in the proportion of vacancies due to a lack of candidates with suitable skills is financial services, up from 10 per cent in 2013 to 21 per cent in 2015.

Business leaders have cautioned that the new apprenticeship levy could exacerbate the problem, by creating a disincentive for organisations to consider training and developing their staff. Neil Carberry, the CBI's director for employment and skills policy, said: “While the UK economy is holding steady against global uncertainty, the business need for people with the right talent and skills continues to grow.

“Businesses are committed to training and developing their staff with a rise in time and money invested, but the apprenticeship levy may act as a disincentive by increasing the cost of taking on apprentices. With the demand for skills on the rise, if the levy is going to work it must have the flexibility for firms to continue to train according to business and industry need.”

However, Stewart Segal, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said that the apprenticeship reforms could "make a real difference" in addressing skills shortages in entry-level jobs and sectors such as health and teaching. "We also agree strongly with the commission’s comments on the need to address the skills of the existing workforce and not just new recruits. Apprenticeships at all levels can make a major impact in tackling this challenge," he added.

UKCES deputy director Lesley Giles said it was essential for the UK to boost its productivity. “To do that, we need people with the right skills," she added. "But that’s only half the story. Creating good jobs that produce high-quality, bespoke goods and services is just as important.”

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

Latest stories

Leadership: how to turn a failing school around

How to turn a failing school around

Rebuilding a school's shattered reputation isn't easy - but focus on belonging, brilliant staff and behaviour and you'll get there, writes Chris Edwards
Chris Edwards 22 Oct 2021
Staff surveys can be key to help uncover what CPD will really have an impact

How to use surveys to focus staff development plans

Staff surveys can be great for uncovering what teachers really want - but you need to ensure they ask the right questions and the insights are properly understood. Here's how you can do just that
Chris Lindop 22 Oct 2021