From education to employment

UK employers see ‘huge skills and talent gap’ in job market

A new survey has warned of a “huge” gap in the number of candidates with suitable skills and talents applying for jobs as a result of rising unemployment in the UK.

According to an annual survey published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) yesterday, employers are struggling to fill vacancies because they are being inundated with applications from unsuitable candidates lacking in the skills or experience needed for the job.

The Resourcing and Talent Planning survey also found an increase in the number of talented individuals staying put in their current jobs rather than trying to find a better job in an unstable jobs market.

These findings come amidst rising levels in unemployment across the country and some now fear the situation could become even worse in coming years with the rise in tuition fees preventing some young people from going to university to acquire skills.

The findings have revealed that 75 per cent of organisations have experienced some form of difficulty in filling job vacancies with suitable candidates. As a result of this more than half the employers interviewed now believe competition to attract the most talented and skilled employees is now greater than ever.

One of the main reasons cited for the lack in necessary specialist or technical skills rising 5 per cent from 2010 to over 70 per cent in 2011 is that those individuals are more reluctant to leave their current job in such a volatile employment market.

The latest figures reveal the median turnover rate has continued to remain low throughout the recession. Current figures for 2011 reveal that companies are only reporting a turnover rate of 12.5%. It has however decreased in some public sector jobs due to the Government’s austerity programme going from 5.8 per cent in 2010 to 3.4 per cent in the current year.

Resourcing and talent planning adviser for the CIPD, Claire McCartney, recognises this is a very difficult time for both employers to fill positions and for job hunters who are desperately seeking employment.

“High levels of unemployment have boosted quantity but employers are still struggling with quality,” she said.

“Shortages of specialist and technical skills run the risk of slamming an unwelcome brake on the long-term competitiveness of the UK economy.”

Almost 40 per cent of employers are also worried the increased tuition fees may affect the number of talented graduated entering the labour market. Others are also bracing themselves for the situation to get worse due to impending cuts in the public sector.

As a result, many employers are keen to support Government backed initiatives such as internships and Apprenticeships as a means of giving unemployed people a chance to learn the skills needed for a particular job. Additionally, ten per cent of employers are also considering providing sponsorship for some students to attend university.

Managing director of human resources at recruitment firm Hays, Julie Waddicor, believes it is up to employers to embrace Government backed initiatives like apprenticeships to help develop more talent in the labour market.

“The rate of youth unemployment continues to soar but employers are still complaining about the lack of talent on the market,” she said.

“There is a real need for more to be done to encourage business to take on apprentices and introduce other initiatives to help young people gain experience in the workplace.”

One of the initiatives striving to alleviate the unemployment problem is The Work Programme that has recently been launched by the Government.

With ministers promising it will help give 2.4 million the assistance they need to find jobs over the next five years, it is hoped to bring an end to dependency on benefits for some of the most vulnerable members of society.

The programme has been designed with the intention of trying to bridge the gap between skills and employability as approved providers find work for individuals based on their individual strengths and skills.

With most of the providers coming from the private sector, other existing support schemes such as the New Deal and Pathways to Work will now be replaced by the new scheme.

Arianna Vaccaro

For more information on The Work Programme, read Fran Parry’s FE News column about how the initiative can be made a success

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