Links betweeen skills shortages and high unemployment in question

Skills shortages in the UK have
a complex pattern and are not necessarily linked to areas of low unemployment,
according to research published today by the Institute for Employment Research
at Warwick University.

The link between skills
shortages in an area and high employment levels may not be as clear cut as was
previously thought. In some areas, particularly central, north and west London
and in the north of England there are significant skills shortages despite relatively
high unemployment.

The report for the Department
of Education and Skills calls for solutions to be drawn up on a local rather
than regional level. It suggests that poor labour-force mobility and a lack of
proper staff training were to blame for the problem.

Evidence of a North-South
divide in skills was presented in the report, but was clouded by many examples
of areas suffering from severe shortages next to areas of surplus.

Skills Minister John Healey
said, "The ease with which employers find people with the right skills
varies enormously, even within regions. 

"We need to encourage a
more mobile workforce in areas where there is already high employment.  In other parts of the country, where there
is lower employment, there is evidence that a lack of relevant experience is a
more pressing concern

"Employers
need to think carefully about how they can boost the skills of their staff for
the future to ensure that their businesses remain productive and
competitive."

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