A look at the UK skills gap as 2017 draws to a close

The UK skills gap sees British companies short 20,000 engineers and technicians every year. This means we will be in need of 1.8 million by 2025. The struggle to find qualified employees costs businesses £2 billion per year. A shocking 90% of employers have reported struggling to recruit employees in the last 12 months. In addition, companies are taking on average 2 months longer to fill vacancies which is costing them millions as they hike wages in order to attract staff. Many are opting to provide on-the-job training because they can’t find recruits with the required skills.

As Brexit looms the fears for the skills gap deepen. Skilled workers are lacking in a range of trades from design, technical services, manufacturing to hospitality. The latter of these stands to lose a whopping 15% of their workers. Many businesses have already noted that it has become harder to attract EU workers. The construction industry, which estimates loses of 8% of their workforce and a rise of 82% in material costs, have requested a concrete timeline and a push to still allow skilled EU workers to come to the UK.

What can be done to close the skills gap?

The UK needs a new focus on the teaching of vocational skills if we are unable to entice workers from the continent. The government has prosed 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. Big businesses like Greene King, The National Grid and GSK are all keen to do their part. The government is providing funding to support apprenticeships and a third of business giants are keen to get involved.

However, apprenticeships aren’t just for 16 year olds anymore. Universities are starting to offer degree level courses ranging in length from 3-6 years. These will go some way to provide highly skilled and experienced employees for a range of jobs. The Open University will also soon launch its first postgrad apprenticeship in senior management.

Meanwhile, The North Herts College continues its work capturing the interests of young people. Mechanics, plumbing, bricklaying, carpentry and plastering courses are all available, ranging from a L1 to L3 diplomas.

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