Search Our Site

We have 3,756,131 registered online learners.
919 new learners so far today.

UK’s widening skills gap ‘losing businesses money’

schedule 4th March 2016 by Virtual College in Virtual College Last updated on 7th July 2016

The UK’s growing skills gap is impacting on business performance, with one in four vacancies going unfilled last year due to a lack of qualified candidates.

Such findings come from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) report, entitled Employer Skills Survey 2015. 

Furthermore, 14 per cent of employers said there was a significant skills gap within their existing workforce, which equates to approximately five per cent of employees in the UK, or 1.4 million people.

Nineteen per cent of employers said they had at least one unfilled vacancy in 2015, which is a jump from the 15 per cent who said the same in 2013. Furthermore, six per cent of respondents said they had at least one skills shortage vacancy, which is up from 2013’s figure of four per cent. 

In terms of the type of role, it was revealed that recruiting for machine operatives was particularly difficult, with 33 per cent of vacancies here cited to be caused by a skills shortage, up for 25 per cent in 2013. In addition, skilled trades continued to experience the highest density of vacancies due to skill shortages, at 43 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, the construction sector also reported that it was significantly impacted on by skills shortages. Employers within this sector found it difficult to fill one in three vacancies.

The financial services showed the sharpest rise in skills shortages, which rose from just ten per cent in 2013 to 21 per cent in 2015. 

Characteristics and skills most missing in applicants for skills shortage vacancies included time management, customer-handling skills and possession of specialist skills or knowledge. 

Furthermore, these skills shortages have been shown to significantly affect business revenues.

Over two-thirds of employers who reported recruiting difficulties also said that this was causing a direct financial impact either due to loss of business to competitors, higher operating costs, and/or the need to outsource work. 

Dr Adam Marshall, executive director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), underlined that these skills shortages are costing businesses financially and called for the government to focus on the quality of apprenticeships, rather than the quantity. 

“Now is also 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,” he added.

It is clear that many candidates for jobs could benefit from undertaking courses and qualifications that would enable them to be successful in their applications, while also filling the skills gaps that employers so need them too.

Virtual College is one of the leading providers of e-learning in the UK. We provide both public and private sector organisations and individual learners with a choice of over 300 e-learning courses, many of which cover the areas employers are currently finding lacking. For more information, please visit:

Virtual College Logo

Author: Virtual College

The latest training news brought to you by Virtual College. We create innovative digital learning experiences that inspire people to develop the skills they need to thrive in their careers; enhancing and enriching the organisations they work in. For 24 years, we have been developing and supplying collaborative, customer-focused e-learning technology for organisations world-wide.

ISO 9001:2015
Crown Commercial Service Supplier
LPI Accredited Learning Technologies Provider


+44 (0)1943 605 976

Virtual College

Marsel House


West Yorkshire

LS29 8DD

Awards for footer
Gold and silver award winners at the Learning Technologies Awards 2017 - including gold for excellence in the design of learning content.


We are in the process of moving to one Virtual College website. If you want to go back to a course, or start a course, bought from our old website then you may need to login to our original learning management system. Otherwise, please proceed to our new learning management system to return to your training.


You are already logged in. Click the button below to be taken to your LMS dashboard. Alternatively, click logout to leave the system.