Half of key UK industries surveyed believe their sector is suffering a skills shortage - and even more expect the shortfall to get worse, according to research commissioned by elemense, the leading recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) provider.
According to the elemense/OnePoll findings, the gap is seen as worst in the technical and engineering industries, with 57.7 percent overall identifying a problem in these compared to the next highest (26.6 percent) in professions such as finance or HR.
The results reveal that 54.5 percent of respondents felt the lack of skills in science, technology, engineering and maths would only get worse over the next five years.
The results are being presented today at a roundtable event at Imperial College, London (May 29, 2012), attended by representatives from organisations such as Balfour Beatty, Chevron, Invensys, Lloyds Register, PBA, Ricardo, and Transport for London, as well as by skills and learning bodies e-skills and STEMNET.
The revealing survey not only confirmed the anecdotal evidence which has been causing growing unease, but also highlighted regional variations and differences in attitudes depending on workers' age, seniority and gender.
Commenting on the results, elemense managing director Peter Collis said: "The results come amid fears that the UK is slipping in its capacity to compete against global rivals, particularly in the technology and knowledge-based economy, as businesses and organisations find it increasingly difficult to find candidates with appropriate technical and engineering skills and experience."
He added: "This is being exacerbated by the shocking 68.8 percent who think the current generation of students do not have 'robust attitudes and the right aptitudes to prepare for work in the knowledge-based and technology industries'."
Speaking on behalf of STEMNET - the national network that aims to increase young people's choices through science, technology, engineering and mathematics - regional networks manager for the South East Dr Ajay Sharman said: "It is no surprise that the elemense/OnePoll survey has revealed a critical STEM skills shortage. STEMNET believes that by inspiring young people to study STEM subjects, more young people will develop the required skills to support the UK economy. To achieve this, we work with 25,000 STEM Ambassadors who volunteer as inspirational role models for young people, doing activities that explore the real-world applications of STEM subjects in school."
The most alarmed were respondents working in computing and electronics; 84.4 percent of whom believed there was a skills shortage. In engineering, 79.4 percent thought the same.
The research sought the opinions of 1,100 respondents - from company leaders down - in the industries of finance and banking, construction, property, manufacturing, computing, engineering, public services, telecoms, utilities, environmental services and education.
There was also an implied criticism of education - with 45.4 percent pointing to education as having the greatest responsibility for training the next generation of engineers and technicians.
© Reed Business Information 2013