Skills crisis to hit UK businesses in next three years
UK businesses could face a skills crisis within the next three years that could jeopardise the country’s steadily growing economy, according to a survey produced by the Prince’s Trust.
The survey was sponsored by HSBC and conducted in association with an independent research agency Loudhouse, who sampled 616 senior business executives from companies hiring 500 employees or more.
Figures show 63% of senior executives believed their businesses are growing at a faster rate than they were a year ago, 65% were optimistic about growth prospects in the year to come and 73% considered there are now more opportunities for growth than previously.
However, in spite of this apparent optimism, 64% of those sampled thought faster economic growth would eventually lead to a skills shortage amongst potential employees, and almost three-quarters of British businesses believed such a shortage would lead to a skills crisis within the next three years.
The survey also questioned business leaders on the potential ramifications of an ageing and diminishing skilled workforce. Six out of ten envisaged low productivity (60%) and decreased service quality (63%) as a result of such problems, while 35% predicted their firms would fold altogether.
Results also revealed an unfair prejudice against young people by companies, with 71% of executives conceding that they face a stigma from potential employers and 20% regarding young people as “lazy”. Furthermore, 72% British businesses think that recruiting young people is essential to avoid a skills crisis and 67% admitted they could be more open-minded about hiring young people.
Head of education and employment at the Confederation of British Industry Rob Wall said: “The lack of skills in key sectors risks acting as a brake on our economic recovery.”
In response to the news that 53% of employers are finding it difficult to fill vacancies, despite there being 817,000 young people still without work in the UK, Martina Milburn, chief executive at the Prince’s Trust commented: “It is deeply concerning that employers are struggling to fill vacancies when we have hundreds of thousands of unemployed young people who are desperate for work.”
The Prince’s Trust supports unemployed young people between the ages of 13 and 30, helping them develop key social and professional skills as well as offering financial incentives and seeking vocational training within different trades. During the last year they claim to have helped 58,000 young people find employment.
Large corporations such as ASDA, Marks and Spencer and DHL have already joined the charity established by the Prince of Wales in 1976 and aim to create employment opportunities for young people in sectors – logistics, construction, and retail – where the skills shortage is particularly concerning.