Skill shortage problems loom for UK plc

UK
business confidence remains steady despite the economic fall-out of the war in
the Middle East and tumbling stock markets, according to a new report.

However,
the study by TMP/Hudson Global Resources, based on a survey of 3,000
businesses, finds that problems are looming for UK plc if it does not take
positive action to address long-term skills shortages. 

The
survey shows the majority of employers believe staff numbers will increase or
remain the same in the next six months, indicating that UK business remains
confident in its prospects despite the events of recent months. 

Key
findings include:


35 per cent of businesses expect to increase staff levels during the next six
months, with four in 10 (43 per cent) forecasting they will remain the same;


Only 15 per cent of companies expect to have to cut staff numbers during the
next six months. This compares favourably to the last six months, when more
than one-quarter (27 per cent) of businesses cut staff numbers;


Despite the soft job market, almost one-third (32 per cent) of companies are
still affected by specific skills shortages. However, only one-quarter of firms
(26 per cent) have a strategy in place to manage this issue over the long-term,
with 48 per cent not having one at all.

Chris
Herrmannsen, European president of TMP/Hudson Global Resources, said: "Our
Industry Insight survey shows that UK plc still believes itself to be in good
health, despite global economic conditions. However, while this is positive
news, it is of some concern that even in a relatively soft labour market, many
businesses are still being hit hard by skills shortages in key areas of their
business, but are doing nothing to address this long-term issue.

"An
ageing population and increased demand for new work skills means skills
shortages will become far more severe during the next decade, and companies
need to give serious consideration about how they are going to overcome this
challenge."

By Ben Willmott

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