Figures released today show that the UK continues to face a worsening skills crisis. Despite the overall rise in job creation, the vacancy rate continues to increase and is particularly acute in specialist areas such as IT and engineering.
The on-going shortage in skilled workers is increasingly causing concern for businesses. Decision makers are facing up to the effects of this market; hard-to-fill vacancies can cause delays in developing new products and services. Meanwhile the latest CBI/Accenture Employment Trends Survey, published last week, reveals that more than half of respondents believe that developing and maintaining digital skills within their organisation has a new urgency in this climate.
Despite there being more than two million students enrolled on degree courses in 2014/15, with a 3% increase in full-time first year enrolments in engineering and technology subjects, businesses often find that graduates are not adequately prepared for the workplace.
The skills gap is affecting UK productivity; for instance, engineering companies have reported an annual shortfall of 55,000 skilled workers. It has been estimated that addressing the shortage of skills in this area could generate £27 billion per year from 2020, roughly equivalent to 1,800 new secondary schools or 110 new hospitals. The Open University is arguing that a greater emphasis on workplace-based higher education is necessary to create more value for businesses and individuals alike.