Research findings suggest that half of Britain’s key industries believe their sector is suffering from skill shortages and only expect matters to become worse.
The worst hit area is seen in the engineering industries (58%); 84% of respondents working in computing and electronics were worried about skill shortages, the next worst area for shortages were found in professions such as finance and HR (27%). Over half of respondents believed that the lack of skills in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects would only get worse over the upcoming five years.
The research gathered opinions from over 1000 respondents across the industries of finance, banking, construction, property, manufacturing, computing, engineering, public services, telecoms, utilities, environmental services and education. The respondents ranged from company leaders down.
Discussion on The Student Room highlighted how shortages in these areas are often compensated by the employment of skilled immigrants but highlighted the importance of British people to be equipped with the right skills so they can make the most out of the job market
‘This way we get a more multiculturual society. We will get skills from a much larger pool’
‘What we need is to take after the Canadian system. They take skilled workers (Anything from nurses to aircraft engineers to lawyers) only to fill the jobs where there is a shortage of workers because there aren’t enough Canadians to do the job.’
An issue heavily discussed was the notion that skilled immigrants were being allowed in solely due to qualification alone, not necessarily due to shortages of the skill in British citizens:
‘Taking skilled workers just because they are skilled, and likely result in more job competition, the best people being hired and the jobs being done to a better standard is wrong. Allowing a skilled foreign national to come and work in the UK in a field where there is not a shortage of professionals in that field results in jobs that would otherwise be taken by British citizens going to a foreign national’
A number of variations were observed in the survey results, from regional differences and different attitudes based on employees’ age, gender and seniority.
The highest gap was reported in the West Midlands and the lowest in East Anglia; however 73% of respondents in this area felt that students had the right attitudes compared to 80% of Welsh respondents who felt the opposite.
The worst hit sector; Technical and Engineering, appeared to be struggling most in the South East (68% believed there was a shortfall) followed closely by Northern Ireland. The higher the seniority of the respondent, the greater skills shortage reported; 60% of the most highest ranking respondents reported shortfalls compared to under half of their junior counterparts- 64% of top managers predicted that the shortages would only get worse.
These results arrive at a time where the UK is feared to be slipping behind its global rivals as organisations find it more and more difficult to find candidates with appropriate skills, particularly in the areas of engineering and technical skills. These fears are being exacerbated further by the shocking 69% who believe that the current student generation do not have the right attitudes and aptitudes required to prepare them for the work demanded of them in knowledge-based and technology industries.