But whereas in 2001 only 24 per cent of employers had plans to introduce staff training, in 2003 some 39 per cent did. Another encouraging sign is the admission of culpability by bosses themselves for the low level of skills - 30 per cent said the gaps were caused by their failure to train staff. There also seems to be an acknowledgement that the skills gap has a direct impact on orders, the development of new products and services, and general productivity.
But when an organisation introduces staff training for everyone, the results can be staggeringly successful. In the best cases, the problem of staff retention becomes a thing of the past and performance improves.
What also emerges from the report is the disparity between geographical regions and different industry sectors. It underlines the importance of tackling the problem at local level.
Providers must listen to employers and deliver solutions. Funding is often available to help with training.
Sue Batt Regional development director Workplace Basic Skills Network Cartmel college Lancaster university