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'Skills shortage vacancies' rise twice as fast as available jobs

Job vacancies in England have returned to pre-recession levels, but economic recovery will be impeded by a lack of recruits with appropriate skills, Government research suggests.

A study published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES ) warned that skills shortage vacancies are growing at twice the rate of jobs. It recorded 559,600 job vacancies in England between March and July 2013, up 45% from 2009.

But the amount of skills shortage vacancies created nearly doubled over the same period, increasing from 63,100 to 124,800.

More than 90,000 employers contributed to the Employer Skills Survey. Their evidence suggests skills shortage vacancies account for more than a fifth of all vacancies (22%).

Confederation of British Industry director for employment and skills Neil Carberry said the findings suggested skills gaps in science, technology, engineering and maths needed to be addressed urgently.

“We must expand access to high quality apprenticeships and other ‘learn while you earn’ schemes and ensure that these meet the needs of both businesses and employees,” he said.

"To equip young people with the knowledge they need, there must also be a sea change in the quality of careers advice in schools, so they are more aware of the opportunities and rewards of working in key sectors which face skills shortages.”

UKCES commissioner and managing director of the UK rail business design, engineering and project management consultancy Atkins, Douglas McCormick, advised businesses to “start thinking about planning their talent pipeline now” and not wait “until they are unable to fulfil contracts because of a lack of skilled staff”. 

He commented on results in the study that showed almost half of employers across the UK (48%) had recruited people with higher levels of skills and knowledge than required for the job.

 “Under-using people’s skills like this risks a bored and demotivated workforce,” said  McCormick. “By providing high-quality and job-specific training, businesses can make sure they have the skilled workforce they need, as well as inspiring loyalty and keeping their staff motivated.”

The report found trades such as plumbing, health and social care were more likely to experience a skills shortage.