From education to employment

Report from DfES and LSC Show England’s Skills Gap Closing Slowly but Surely

Results from a survey conducted in 2005 have revealed that England’s skills gap has narrowed by almost half.

The survey shows that the number of people with gaps in their skills has fallen from 11% to 6% in two years. Numerically, this means that the 2.4 million workers described by employers as “not fully proficient” in 2003 has dropped to 1.3 million in 2005.

Getting Better, say Employers

Details also revealed by the survey show that the number of employers claiming to have a skills gap in their business fell from 22% to 16% in the same period. The number of employers who cause skills gaps by not training their workforce sufficiently has fallen from 29% to 23% during this time as well. Of the employers that reported a recent drop in their skills gap, 74% of them had increased the amount of training given to their workforce.

The industry sectors that reported the highest incidence of skills gaps were the retail and hospitality sectors. At present, the types of skills that are suffering from the biggest gaps are what are referred to as “soft skills”. This relates to areas such as team working and customer handling skills.

A Remarkable Feat

The annual survey was conducted by the National Employers Skills Survey 2005 (NESS05) and was commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) to provide information on the extent, causes and implications of recruitment problems and skills gaps.

Ultimately, the findings suggest that the skills gap in England has narrowed, with an increase in employer investment in training and uptake in vocational courses credited for the improvements.

It is a remarkable feat that, in only two years, the total number of people without the relevant skills needed for their industry in England has nearly halved. Not only that, but employers are now spending more time and money on training their employees which, of course, is a major factor in the swift and steep decline of the skills gap. If the retail and hospitality sectors follow suit, and if the other sectors continue their strong improvement, there will be a steady reduction in skills gaps to follow in the coming years.

Paul Keely

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