Last updated: 29.08.14

Concerns over UK skills gap raised

The UK's skills gap needs to be addressed if the country's youth unemployment problem is going to be solved in the coming years.

This is the view of Mark Boulting, managing director of Plymouth-based Skills Group, who has called for more vocational training to be made available to young people.

He pointed out that a lot of low-skilled jobs are now being filled by migrants from Eastern Europe and told the Plymouth Herald this is partly because of a widening skills gap in the UK.

Mr Boulting said: "At Skills Group we have noticed a huge appetite amongst employers to engage with apprentices and work experience opportunities but, whilst we have over 200 vacancies for high quality jobs, we still don’t have enough suitable candidates."

The government has been pushing apprenticeships hard, but while this is becoming an increasingly popular option for school-leavers around the country, Mr Boulting still believes more can be done to persuade people of the benefits of taking a vocational path.

For those from a low-income background who are worried about the high levels of debt involved in going to university to study for a degree, a vocational path such as an apprenticeship might prove to be a better option in the long run. Young people signing up to apprenticeships can also supplement their learning on the job by using online tools to boost their skills and expertise, improving their prospects in the long run.

Speaking ahead of the release of this year's GCSE results earlier in the month, Mr Boulting added: "Schools and colleges need to listen to employers and try to get young people's expectations in line with current workplace needs. This involves putting vocational routes on a par with academic and developing the employability skills that employers want."

The Skills Group representative added that employers can also help by paying above the minimum wage wherever it is possible for them to do so. Mr Boulting said: "Our employers see the benefit in investing in their staff and the effect on their bottom line."