There’s no point denying it, the UK is short of skilled workers. However, evidence suggests that industry’s doing little about it; rather, CEOs are waiting for the Government to provide the tools to plug the gap.
So what’s right or wrong with that picture?
There are two sides to the argument and it depends upon which side you take to determine whether you see dire consequences or job opportunities.
What’s right for the contractor and immediate growth may not be what’s right for long-term stability, but we’ll fall further beyond if one side doesn’t move, and quickly.
As far as the bigger picture is concerned, PwC’s 16th CEO Survey underlines the UK standpoint that bosses aren’t willing to commit their cash to training people up for these essential skills needed to compete and grow in the fast-paced world of industry.
This is tempered by the same report stating that 7 out of 10 of these same CEOs will be investing over the next three years.
That leaves a very distinct opportunity for contractors and freelancers to dip their bread, as it were. And here’s why.
With the threat of a triple-dip recession only just sailing harmlessly above our heads, industry is still watching its purse strings.
Key areas of investment, personnel development and training, are being overlooked to help organisations remain as fluid as possible should the worst happen.
Key industries lacking in expertise
Whether it’s a direct effect of the UK becoming more of a service industry platform over the last decade than an industrial goldmine or not is hard to say.
Yet the evidence is irrefutable: construction, energy, engineering and mining have all been earmarked as sectors with a particular lack of skilled workforce and the UK is in stalemate over who’s move it is next.
Almost two thirds of CEOs (65%) believe that this lack of industrial acumen in the available workforce is having a detrimental effect on their capacities for growth.
Indeed, lack of available workforce skill was second only behind tax in the list of threats CEOs see to economic and personal growth.
The good news for contractors is that there are more UK businesses planning increments to their ranks than cutting back, but only just – 45% vs 35%.
17% of the remainder expect their staff levels will maintain a status quo with 3% unsure; worst case, 4 in 10 suppliers are firing, not hiring.
However, as that expansion may rely on the implementation of Government initiatives, it does somewhat leave the door open for contractors. Temporary workers who are strong in the fields that desperate needs enforce the engagement of expertise to arise will have no shortage of work in the short term.
However, with industry looking to build on existing levels of expertise through permanent employment once it’s weathered this particular economic storm, that window of opportunity won’t be open forever.
It may be a short term view, but freelancers and interim managers: make hay whilst the sun shines. You can always get back under your umbrella when the clouds loom on the horizon in the future.