Skills shortages ‘holding back HR sector growth’

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Many businesses in the UK HR sector are struggling to grow because of skills shortages, according to a report released this week.

The Reed HR 2012 Salary and Market Insight Report, which surveyed 1,500 employers and employees, found that 39% of respondents admitted that there are skills gaps in their organisations that are having an effect on business performance and growth potential. Half of senior managers who responded said that the skills shortages in their organisations are having a negative impact on their business.

The survey highlighted a number of other findings that paint a worrying picture of skills in the HR sector:




  • 40% of respondents said that they are worried about losing talent from their organisation;
  • one-third said that they have a skills shortage in their organisation, while a further third didn’t know if they have a skills shortage;
  • 50% of senior managers said that they have a skills shortage; and
  • one respondent in five was concerned about the migration of talent to other sectors or countries.

In response to some of these findings, the report surveyed the steps that businesses are taking to deal with skills shortages and loss of talent:




  • 46% of businesses are investing in training;
  • one-third are focusing on internal promotion;
  • a quarter are looking externally to recruit new talent; and
  • formal talent management and incentives/benefits come lower down the list.

One significant, worrying finding, however, was that 38% said that their organisations are doing none of these things to grow or maintain talent levels.

Jason Willis, divisional director at Reed HR, said: “The majority of businesses are now being run in a very lean way, with little surplus of skills to take up the slack when someone leaves for a new role.

“This means that effective talent management is more important than ever and the first step to this is understanding the skills within the organisation. However, while key skills are important, employers will also benefit from a degree of flexibility if they can find employees with the right mindset – as our research also found that one person with the right mindset is worth seven without.”

The report also found that the skills shortage may worsen before it improves. While it found that 61% of respondents are satisfied in their current roles, many are looking to move on to new challenges. At junior manager level, for example, 46% are either actively looking for a new role or are planning to start the search in the next 12 months.

Willis continued: “Junior managers are the leaders of tomorrow and an area where many companies invest a lot of time. They are also heavily involved in an organisation’s day to day operations and, therefore, too many departures at this level are likely to cause both short term disruption and create longer term talent gaps in the future.

“Inevitably, there will always be those individuals that move on, with talented people always in demand. So, employers should look carefully at this level within their business to identify where particular skills and talents lie.”

If you are thinking about the training and development of your employees, Personnel Today’s Buyers’ Guides can help.

  • CommonSense

    We need to change how we treat training and upskilling staff
    NOW! This really needs to be a significant change as employers cannot rely
    solely on fishing from the same pond.

    More companies should be looking internally and offering the
    chance to their employees to do something different. A lot of people would jump
    at the chance to do something different. Just because someone is an
    Administrator for example doesn’t mean it is their passion or dream job! Unfortunately
    many people don’t leave school and know what they want to do, they end up in
    jobs that maybe aren’t best suited for their skills or are doing something that
    they don’t enjoy. Unfortunately through other life pressures and finances,
    mortgage etc it becomes extremely difficult for people to change direction in
    their careers and do something they would be better at as qualifications cost
    money and job changes normally mean a significant drop in salary and starting
    again from the bottom which many simply cannot afford to do. This is a shame
    and a waste of talent as many people have fantastic transferable skills, life
    experience and enthusiasm that they can bring to the table.

    We are increasingly likely to be working into our 70’s so
    there needs to be a complete culture change and the ability for people to
    change careers more easily. Employers can help do this and need to be playing a
    much higher part in this. It will help to cut skills shortages by using
    existing staff to train further or looking at new staff to train. On the plus side existing
    staff are already known to you, you should know their strengths and weakness etc
    and there is the opportunity for them to do the different job as trial period
    so both parties can see how it will work. It will also open up other vacancies
    for other staff to come on board or for new staff to join.

    Employers should not just rely on people that have spent
    their own time and money to get qualifications or on paid for government funded
    initiatives. They need to start putting something back in to their workforce too. Ok
    this may be difficult for much smaller businesses but I am sure that there are
    answers and solutions to these problems to make it work, it has to if we are to
    move forward!

    I know for much higher skilled jobs this may not be possible
    but I am sure there is a way and if there are not people with the skills you
    are looking for then you will need to train them! You cannot just sit around
    waiting for the perfect candidate to come along that has been trained by
    another company. Be proactive, your workforce will thank you for it.