Yesterday’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) labour market statistics made for further gloomy reading, with figures highlighting a further rise in unemployment, taking current figures to the worst levels of unemployment for 17 years. As of the latest figures, 2.57 million people are unemployed; that equates to 8.1% of the population.
There is further evidence that jobs growth in the private sector is not sufficient to offset losses in the public sector, and perhaps the only ‘positive’ finding was that youth unemployment didn’t break the one million mark – although it came pretty close at 991,000.
However, two days after the ONS figures pointed to mass unemployment, a report has been published by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in which employers claim there is a shortage of skilled candidates. How can this be?
It seems outlandish to suggest there is a lack of quality candidates out there – surely there must be a proportion of the two and a half million unemployed that are sufficiently skilled and ready for work?
Well, not according to the BCC’s findings, in which almost half of respondents said it is ”very” or “quite” difficult to fill vacancies, with many citing candidates’ lack of basic skills such as literacy, numeracy, timekeeping and communication.
It is easy to suggest that in order to remedy this skills shortage, there needs to be an overhaul of education and development in order to better prepare people for the workplace. There are regular calls for the Government to act on this issue.
But that’s a long-term plan. What can be done in the short term? Do employers need to source more intelligently to find the talented candidates that must surely be out there? Or do some employers need to take on more responsibility for developing employees after recruiting them?
Is it unrealistic for employers such as those cited in the BCC research to simply expect perfectly skilled and equipped candidates to just drop into their laps?