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Almost two-thirds of business leaders are struggling with recruitment, and a quarter consider this their single biggest challenge, according to new research.
The Open University’s annual Business Barometer in conjunction with the Institute of Directors found that 45% of organisations are having trouble recruiting for non-senior roles.
More than half of those polled (56%) believe apprenticeships and work-based learning will play a crucial role in long-term success, up eight percentage points on last year’s survey.
Around a quarter (24%) of leaders who responded thought that finding staff with the right skills would be their biggest challenge over the next five years. Almost all said they would maintain or increase the number of apprentices in their organisation.
Viren Patel, director of the business development unit at the Open University said the latest barometer results showed the skills gap was here for the long term.
“The skills and labour shortage is being felt across multiple sectors of the UK economy and many employers see this as a long term challenge,” he said.
“Almost two-thirds of organisation leaders admit they have struggled to find the right people with the right experience, demonstrating the need for enhanced training to nurture employee skills, knowledge and workplace learning.”
A third of employers said that leaving vacancies unfilled meant their existing staff were at risk of overwork, which could potentially impact their wellbeing. A third also said they had left a role vacant because there were no appropriate candidates.
Thirty-two per cent had introduced new training to existing employees to close the skills gap, the survey found.
Kitty Ussher, chief economist at the IoD, added: “On the plus side, we are also seeing optimism around the potential for remote working to fill skills gaps and an appreciation of the role of apprenticeships to train tomorrow’s workers.
“We’re asking the UK government to put lifelong learning, retraining and upskilling at the heart of their forthcoming Budget so that firms and individuals alike can fully take advantage of the massive opportunities that are available as our economy recovers and restructures.”
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