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Employers turning to young talent to plug skills gaps

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Number of employers who plan to hire more apprentices and school leavers has increased

UK employers are increasingly turning to young talent to plug skills gaps, according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The CIPD’s latest Labour Market Outlook report found that the proportion of employers who say they plan to hire more apprentices and school leavers has increased sharply in response to recruitment difficulties since spring 2014.

A third (33%) of employers who say they have hard to fill vacancies plan to hire more apprentices, compared with just 22% in the spring 2014 report.

However, upskilling employees remains the most common employer response to recruitment difficulties, cited by half of employers (50%).

CIPD head of public policy Ben Willmott told HR magazine that training apprentices can provide a benefit to businesses. “Investing in young people, for example through employing apprentices, is typically more cost-effective than trying to buy in skills and talent later,” he said.

“Retention rates are usually good for apprentices and businesses can quickly see a return on their training investment. In addition many younger apprentices bring good digital skills, as well as fresh ideas and enthusiasm.”

The report also highlighted an increasingly polarised picture for wages. Median pay increase expectations are higher in the private sector (2%) than in the public (1%) and voluntary (1.5%) sectors.

CIPD labour market analyst Gerwyn Davies said: “At one end of the spectrum, workers in occupations where there are skills or labour shortages and thriving sectors such as finance and construction seem likely to get pay increases well above current inflation.

“However, at the other end of the scale, many workers in areas such as manufacturing and public sector are seeing only a very modest increase in living standards. In-between, the bulk of workers will continue to see moderate growth in their pay packets, but with inflation expected to stay low they should still feel the benefit of any increases.”