Skills gap could hamper business efforts to capitalise on economic recovery

Employers fear a massive skills gap in the UK could hamper business efforts to capitalise on the economic recovery.

Inadequate training, obsolete skills, and learning and development functions that fail to deliver were cited as obstacles, a study by Capita Learning and Development found.

The research, based on a survey of senior decision makers at the UK’s largest 500 firms, found that 70% of business leaders believe inadequate staff skills are the greatest threat.

More than two-thirds admit that their under-trained workforce is struggling to cope with expanded job remits following waves of job cuts during the recession. More than a third (36%) lack confidence that their employees have the skills required to deliver the firm’s upturn strategy, and nearly half (46%) cast doubt on their learning and development department’s ability to provide these learning services.

The study also revealed that more than half (55%) claim that their firm is failing to deliver the necessary training for recovery. And workers are still struggling to catch up with the impact of the recession. More than two-thirds (67%) are concerned their employees are struggling to cope with expanded remits following job cuts.

Chris Sharp, managing director of Capita Learning and Development, said: “The post-recession landscape demands a range of new skills. Yet the UK workforce is critically lacking essential capabilities.

“Firms have failed to provide the right training through turbulent times and arm their staff with the skills needed for recovery. There is a real risk that this will leave UK plc exposed when the upturn finally arrives.”

Earlier this week Personnel Today reported how private sector employers viewed flexible working as simply a cost benefit rather than a way of tapping into new skillsets, and were at risk of missing opportunities to take advantage of the upturn and drive recovery.

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