Skills gap will worsen after Brexit, say employers

Half of employers believe Brexit will exacerbate the shortage of skilled professionals in the UK, according to new research.

Two thirds (65%) of employers already believe they will face a shortage of skilled professionals this year, but 50% of 1,355 employers surveyed by Totaljobs and Robert Walters recruitment consultancy, felt leaving the EU in March 2019 would make matters worse.

The shortage will be most acute at the junior and mid-management level, according to half of employers (52%), and nearly a quarter (23%) said Britain is not prepared to compete on a global stage due to its skills gap.

While the ultimate impact Brexit may have is not yet clear, it is possible that employers will have to revise recruitment strategies to compensate for the lack of easy and simple access to professionals in Europe” – Chris Hickey, CEO, Robert Walters

David Clift, HR director at Totaljobs said: “As we head closer towards Brexit, employers will have to think differently about how they attract and retain the best talent from across the globe. For current staff, training will be key to closing any skills gaps, and giving employees the confidence that the businesses they work for can help them fulfil their career ambitions.

“When it comes to attracting staff, employers will have to look to different industries to find the transferable skills that are essential to grow… Shortages are likely to be particularly severe at the junior and mid-management, partly due to the long-term impact of the 2008 financial crisis, when levels of graduate recruitment fell sharply.”

The research paper, Solving the UK Skills Shortage, suggested that 28% of employers would target professionals from other fields who possess transferable skills and 49% would use internal training to upskill staff.

Totaljobs and Robert Walter also surveyed 3,789 job candidates and found that 57% of applicants would look for roles in other fields where their skills would be transferable. Almost half (48%) of candidates believe that employers should partner more effectively with local universities and educate students on potential career paths and 48% believe that they should offer work placements

Chris Hickey, Robert Walters CEO for the UK, Middle East and Africa, said: “While the ultimate impact Brexit may have is not yet clear, it is possible that employers will have to revise recruitment strategies to compensate for the lack of easy and simple access to professionals in Europe.

“Developing innovative strategies to address skills shortages will be critical for employers in order to help their businesses remain competitive in a crowded global marketplace.”

He added: “Employers may need to consider broadening their hiring criteria and sourcing professionals with transferable skills from other professional backgrounds.

“In many cases, in addition to helping employers fill business critical vacancies, this approach can help bring new and innovative ideas into an organisation due to their varied background.”

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