Warning as skills shortage sees surge in unfilled jobs


Firms are facing an "unprecedented" shortage of skilled workers, with the threat that thousands of vacancies will be left unfilled, a new report has warned.

The number of posts left unfilled has increased by 130% since 2011, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

Vacancies because of skills shortages now make up almost a quarter of the total - around 200,000 positions, a study found.

Some sectors were said to be facing an "acute" shortage of skilled workers, including electricity, gas, water and construction.

Research among 90,000 organisations showed that more than a third of vacancies in some industries were not being filled because of skills shortages.

The financial services sector has seen the biggest increase in skills shortages.

Lesley Giles, deputy director of the commission - the Government's skills experts - said: "With global competition intensifying, the UK urgently needs to boost its productivity.

"Creating good jobs that produce high-quality, bespoke goods and services is just as important."

Douglas McCormick, one of the group's commissioners, said: "The UK has witnessed exceptionally strong job creation in the past few years, creating jobs at a faster rate than any other EU country.

"However, this growth has been accompanied by stalling productivity levels. Evidence from the survey suggests that developing the skills of the existing workforce to taking advantage of new technology and digitisation will be critical if the UK is to finally close the productivity gap."

Petra Wilton, the Chartered Management Institute's director of strategy, said: "British firms may grumble about talent poverty but it's a direct result of businesses' under-investment in management skills training - especially for more senior roles.

"Half of candidates lack professional management and leadership skills because the majority of employers don't offer training to first-time managers.

"We know that 43% of workers rate their line managers as ineffective, failing to recognise or support their talents."

Dr Adam Marshall, executive director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce said: "This report highlights what we in the business community have been saying for some time. It is clear that a shortage of skills is preventing businesses from reaching their full potential, and hurts productivity.

"Politicians and business will ignore this at their peril. The Government needs to focus on the quality of apprenticeships, not the quantity - which will not help the next generation progress.

"Furthermore, this report shows now is not the time to introduce an Immigrant Skills Charge, as recently proposed by the Migration Advisory Committee.

"Businesses are currently experiencing acute skills shortages and we shouldn't further handicap them by increasing the cost of recruiting the talent they need."