Skills shortages could hold employers back in the recovery

Skills shortages continue to afflict employers despite rising unemployment and could damage their competitiveness in the recovery.

Employers and recruitment agencies have warned that many positions, including those of head teachers, nuclear engineers and food technologists, remain hard to fill and this could make it difficult for British companies to keep up with their foreign counterparts when the economy recovers.

They added that the demand for key skills was likely to create renewed pressure for immigration, which could lead to social tensions.

Alistair Cox, chief executive of recruitment agency Hays, told the Financial Times: “Even though we are in the depths of the recession, there are areas which are feeling either a general or in some cases quite an acute level of skill shortage.”

Recruitment agencies said London and the south-east had suffered the most from skill shortages during the economic boom and continued to do so in many sectors.

Last week Personnel Today revealed that vacancy rates in the NHS had increased due to poor workforce planning by trust HR functions and a lack of available skills.

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