CIPD calls for urgent measures to plug skills shortages

UK skills shortages predate the pandemic and require a change of strategy, according to the CIPD.

A new report from the body has found that four in 10 (39%) employers currently have hard-to-fill vacancies.

Compared with 2019, this has only risen by 3% (up from 36%).

However, jobs in many low-paid sectors, including hospitality (51% up from 12%) and health and social care (49%) are facing acute talent shortages, which the CIPD has said calls for urgent intervention.

UK talent crisis:

Demand for workers remains high as staffing shortages grow

Hidden jobs gap in the UK putting low-paid workers at risk

Majority of businesses struggling to recruit specialist skills

“Our research suggests that too often, employers in low-paying sectors see the workforce as a cost to manage down rather than a key value driver to invest in,” commented CIPD senior labour market adviser Gerwyn Davies.

“There’s promising evidence that some employers are getting better at sourcing labour and improving job quality in response to labour shortages. 

“However, changes in business behaviour, people management capability and investment priorities will take time, time that firms struggling with acute skill and labour shortages now simply don’t have.”

In hospitality and transport especially, employers attributed a loss of talent to Brexit.

The body has therefore called on government to introduce a temporary job mobility scheme for young EU nationals to help employers respond more quickly to the shortages.

It has also renewed its call to reform the apprenticeship levy to introduce more flexibility for employers, and for a £60 million cash injection to fund a Growth Hub network offering business improvement consultancy services.

Davies added: “We hope that the upcoming chancellor’s spending review recognises the need for improvement in the quality and availability of business support, to pave the way for greater investment in skills, people management capability and technology over the longer term.”