The so-called ‘skills shortage’ or ‘talent crisis’ is bandied about quite a bit nowadays in the recruitment sector, but it’s not just a bogeyman – it’s real!
Or at least the majority of employers believe the skills shortage to be very real, according to the most recent research study from City & Guilds. Researchers discovered that, out of some 1,000 firms that were polled by the survey a full 60 per cent reported that their sector had a serious dearth of skilled and qualified professionals for the number of job positions – something that the nation’s freelancers and umbrella contractors have been capitalising upon recently.
Sadly, this could eventually lead to bad news to the freelancing community, as one out of three companies surveyed said they are looking overseas to fill crucial and key roles because experienced workers here in the UK are thin on the ground. If this skills shortage keeps up, eventually even the robust freelancing community won’t be able to keep up with the demand of UK businesses, and the employment market could easily collapse in upon itself. Yes it’s a worst-case scenario, but it will definitely arrive unless something changes.
So how do we head off this looming economic disaster? Well for what it’s worth, new graduates aren’t being properly prepared for the real world when it comes to providing the skills they’ll need to enter the workforce, and employers know it: a full 50 per cent of survey respondents said that the education system is failing both students and employers by not meeting their needs.
If you ask me, the UK needs to fundamentally shift its focus towards education in a big way if we want to avoid the deleterious effects of a long-term skills shortage. Whether this means we need to completely refurbish the kinds of things students are learning or if we need to place a higher emphasis on apprenticeship programmes, that’s beyond my expertise; regardless of that, something obviously has to be done.
It’s going to take more than just throwing money at the problem as well. Heaven knows the current Government is quite keen to just toss cash in the bin on hare-brained economic development schemes, but the best way to resolve the talent shortage in a positive way is doubtlessly going to involve a well-thought-out, measured response that examines all the different facets of the issue, not some half-arsed stopgap measure.