Learning and Work responds to UKCES Employer Skills Survey 2015

27 January 2016

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) have published the results of the 2015 Employer Skills Survey which shows a 130% increase in vacancies due to skills shortages in the labour market.

Lesley Giles, deputy director at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills said:

“With global competition intensifying, the UK urgently needs to boost its productivity.  To do that, we need people with the right skills.  But that’s only half the story.  Creating good jobs that produce high-quality, bespoke goods and services is just as important.  The Employer Skills Survey provides a wealth of data to enable businesses, training providers and policy makers to make informed decisions about what needs to be done to boost jobs, productivity and prosperity throughout the UK.” 

Douglas McCormick, Chief Executive of the Sweett Group and a Commissioner at UKCES added:

“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 Employer Skills 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.”

In response, Learning and Work Institute chief executive, David Hughes, said:

“This research sends important messages to employers, the Government and to people interested in careers. The headline figure of an increase of 130% in skills shortages in the past four years is alarming, as is the smaller but critical data about skills gaps for un-skilled and semi-skilled workers.  We need to understand the underlying issues behind these figures and recognise that the current employment and skills system is not operating effectively. 

“With employment at record levels, now is the perfect time for businesses and individuals to invest in learning and skills to improve pay and productivity and through that contribute to progression and business success. 

“Learning and Work Institute is calling on the government to ensure that it is addressing these needs in three ways. 

“Firstly, more needs to be done to ensure that Advanced Learner Loans provide opportunities for people to learn skills which will help them progress at work as well as in life. Our Ambition London project will show how Loans can improve productivity and pay and aid career progression in key sectors of the economy which have skills shortages and skills gaps. 

“Secondly, more needs to be done to develop career paths for people in emerging technical sectors. Alongside the emphasis on Apprenticeships, our research has found that the development of sector specific traineeships offers unique entry opportunities for young people who can help fill skills shortage vacancies in the STEM industries. 

“Thirdly, we need more focus on the skills gaps of many un-skilled and semi-skilled workers. Their lack of basic literacy, numeracy and digital skills are them back from progressing at work. For people in and seeking work, our new Citizens’ Curriculum provides a flexible approach to gaining these vital basic skills. 

“Learning and Work Institute will continue to work with the government and employers to address these needs, but it is crucial that we continue to monitor long-term trends in skills gaps and shortages through tools like the Employer Skills Survey.”