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Skills shortages plaguing older UK businesses

A majority (90%) of large businesses in the UK are struggling to fill skills gaps in their organisation, with older companies struggling even more.

Research from HR, payroll and finance software solution provider MHR has found 88% of businesses in operation for more than 20 years have had trouble plugging skills gaps, as opposed to 63% of startups that have been around for less than five years.

Filling skills gaps:

Freelancers plugging skills gaps rather than permanent hires

Training is the answer to skills and retention fears, businesses decide

Half of HRDs see retraining as solution to the skills gap

A focus on data, according MHR chief financial officer Mark Jenkins, could give companies the tools they need to address the issue.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: "To build true business resilience, organisations must not just focus on employee engagement and training, but also arm themselves with as much data as possible around recruitment, retention and skills required, to establish where the gaps are, and make any operational changes needed to fill them.

"It’s no real surprise that in today’s challenging landscape, businesses are struggling to access to the skills they need to keep an edge on the competition. But investing in the right skills, tools and talent is a core part of a business’ ability to withstand further market disruptions, so it’s a hurdle that must be overcome."

Older businesses were also more worried about resilience and future planning (86%) than younger organisations (68%).

Jill Cotton, career trends expert at job website Glassdoor, said that businesses need to be more creative with hiring processes as skills shortages are persistent.

She told HR magazine: "Reconsider whether industry experience is needed for success. If it isn’t, look at the transferable skills of candidates you wouldn’t normally consider and invest in training. Companies that push themselves out of their comfort zone will be rewarded with fresh and innovative talent."

Half of UK businesses (50%) have focused on employee engagement to combat the skills gaps issue, which Cotton highly recommended.

She added: "Salary is the number one consideration for job seekers, but employee engagement is critical if you want to retain your workers and attract great candidates. Strong company culture and values, access to career opportunities, and high-quality senior leadership keep employees satisfied in their roles.

"Employee engagement must be part of your long-term recruitment strategy to avoid a never-ending hiring cycle."

MHR surveyed of 504 senior managers across the HR, finance, business planning and operational functions in April 2022.