REC: Labour market shadowed by skills shortage

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation says that the British labour market has been dogged by the shadow of the skills shortage as of late.

According to the REC, for the most part its most recent JobsOutlook research study – something it engages in every month to remain as current as possible on how employers view the economic landscape of the UK – more than eight out of every ten business owners feel things are getting better. In fact, more than four out of every ten reported that they were feeling more confident about future hiring decisions, and that goes for permanent employees as well as freelancers and umbrella company contractors as well.

There was some more good news in store as well – the UK’s unemployment rate hasn’t been this low since January of 2006. Fewer Brits than ever are unemployed, which should be cause for celebration, but the REC says there’s a dark, shadowy side to the otherwise cheery news. In fact, the low unemployment rate might ironically make it harder for employers to source workers to fill vacancies thanks to the skills shortage. It’s likely to be worst in the construction, driving/distribution, professional/managerial, and the technical/engineering sectors says the trade industry body. This could throw a serious spanner in the works for any one looking to take on more permanent workers either over the next three months or in the longer term as well.

It really does seem like irony writ large doesn’t it? The economy is humming along finally, people are heading back to work, businesses feel they can afford to grow and expand – but this expansion could all come to a grinding halt if there aren’t enough of the right skilled permanent workers out there to fill these positions. Thankfully the nation’s stalwart freelancers and umbrella contractors are there to pick up the slack, but something will have to be done in the longer-term, as there simply aren’t going to be enough contractors available to plug this skills gap indefinitely.

Worse comes to worst I can expect an influx of foreign workers on British shores to take care of the problem for British employers, but for what it’s worth this might not come to fruition if we can develop some better educational resources in the form of better apprenticeship programmes in place. If we can even revamp the nation’s universities into preparing younger generations for the needs of today and tomorrow’s workforce that would be just as well, don’t you think?

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