Last updated: 04.12.14

UK's economic recovery halted by skills shortages

The current skills shortage in the UK is preventing the economic recovery from moving forward, according to business leaders.Despite the job market showing an overall improvement from recent years, more unemployed people are struggling to find work or receive the necessary training to kick-start their careers.And the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) believes that a severe lack of skills from entry-level candidates is the reason why.Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, said: "Last year we had nine areas of skills shortages, now we have 43 areas. Every single type of engineering is in short supply, from mechanical to software, civil to electrical."In IT, coders, programmers, developers are all in short supply; there's a shortage of doctors and nurses in the National Health Service; and we need about 20,000 more teachers in the UK."The Confederation of British Industry's latest survey reveals that the skills shortage problem is becoming more severe, in particular for high-level skills in sectors like manufacturing and construction.It found that 40 per cent of firms looking for workers proficient in Stem - science, technology, engineering and maths - subjects struggled to recruit, with half of businesses predicting the situation will worsen in the near future.Skills shortfalls in the construction sector mean that house building targets are unlikely to be met and costs will increase - particularly concerning at a time when more affordable housing is a big priority.The UK Commission for Employment and Skills' recent Growth Through People report highlights the key areas needed to tackle the skills shortage issue across the country.Its primary solution is that it is the responsibility of employers to step up to the mark and provide more young people with opportunities and work prospects, through apprenticeships and traineeships.Providing the government, industry leaders and unions collaborate and agree on a strategy to challenge the issue, the skills shortage crisis should begin to alleviate.