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Employers are happy with their workers' proficiency but want to boost it further

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Most employers are happy with the calibre of their employees but they have been warned to invest more in their staff and expect more output.

According to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills survey of 79,152 employers, 93% of the UK workforce is thought to be proficient in their jobs.

More than one in 10 establishments (12%) had job vacancies - down from 18% in 2007; while 3% of employers had vacancies they could not fill because they couldn't find candidates with suitable skills, qualifications or experience - down from 5% in 2007.

More than half of the workforce (56%) had received some training in the previous 12 months, down from 63% in 2007. But employers are spending slightly more on training per person than they previously did, with an average investment of £3,050 per person in 2009, compared with £2,775 in 2007

Mark Spilsbury, chief economist at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, said: "In broad terms, employers are finding what they need from the labour market. Not surprisingly, during the height of last year's recession, fewer employers were recruiting, but when they did, they found it easier to get the people they needed.

"But despite this, our research shows that many employers want to boost the proficiency of their staff even further.  Most  - around 70% - intend to upskill their workforce over the coming year.  It's a sensible business strategy: employers need to produce goods and services of ever-higher quality in order to compete with cheap imports from China, India and the tiger economies.

"If the UK economy is to prosper, employers need to create higher-level, higher skilled jobs, as well as demanding more from, and investing more in, their staff."