Last updated: 05.09.14

Can e-learning help businesses overcome skills shortages?

It is no secret that the UK is currently suffering from skills shortages in key areas. 

This has most recently been highlighted by the latest report on jobs from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG. 

It found that while the number of jobs on the market continues to increase, the availability of candidates to fill them is increasingly tight. A lack of people with the skills employers are looking for is one of the factors driving this trend.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, claimed encouraging more skilled workers to move to the UK may be one way to solve this problem. 

"As skills shortages increase and employers struggle to find the people they need, politicians from all parties should focus on ensuring that we have a visa and immigration regime that supports UK businesses," he stated.

Could there be another solution, however? One alternative is for employers to focus on up-skilling the employees they already have rather than looking to bring people with ready-made skills in.

E-learning is a way in which they could achieve this. For example, at Virtual College we offer online courses and learning tools in a wide range of areas, from data protection through to health and safety. 

The key advantage of this approach is its flexibility. Learning online can easily be fitted around employees' existing work commitments, ensuring they are able to develop new skills and experiences without this having a negative impact on their work.

Thinking of innovative ways to overcome the skills shortage is certainly something employers need to consider, as the problem will not be solved overnight.

For example, the REC's JobsOutlook survey for July 2014 found that while businesses are more confident regarding the economy, this optimism is being partly undermined by concerns about the skills gap.

Earlier this month, Mark Boulting, managing director of Plymouth-based Skills Group, called for more to be done to provide young people with vocational training in order to help address the current shortage.