Skills gaps trend unclear

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 high unemployment.

The report for the Department for 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 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 skills of
staff for the future to ensure their businesses remain productive and
competitive."

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