Skills gap now a hazardous abyss affecting all sectors

Half of the UK’s employers have found problems recruiting
skilled workers in the past six months.

Lloyds TSB Commercial’s biannual Business in Britain survey
revealed that 50 per cent of firms have experienced difficulties finding
skilled workers compared with just one-in-five in the early 1990s.

Michael Riding, managing director of Lloyds TSB Commercial,
said the skills gap is a growing headache for employers. He said, “According to
those polled, the yawning skills gap is turning into a hazardous abyss across
all sectors. In terms of recruiting unskilled staff, similar trends are
emerging. Local labour supply cannot match demand”.

“Many firms have been unable to pay higher wages to attract
skilled staff because of declining profits – the result of fierce competition
and strong downward price pressures.”

IT and business services, manufacturing, transport and
communications companies had a harder time hiring over the past six months than
at the start of the year but the construction industry was the hardest hit,
with nearly two thirds of firms reporting a skills shortfall.

Wholesalers reported the least difficulties of the firms
surveyed, however 40 per cent of businesses in the sector still find it tough
filling vacancies.

Businesses in the Thames Valley reported the highest
percentage of recruitment problems in the UK at 60 per cent.

Andy Corrigan, a spokesman for the Thames Valley Chamber of
Commerce and Industry, told Personnel Today that there was a shortage of both
skilled and unskilled workers in the region.

He commented, “Our own surveys have confirmed that two
thirds of firms or more had experienced difficulties.”

“The main issue for us is the people important to the
economy who are not paid so well, the bus drivers, police officers and
cleaners, they are being priced out of the region because of house price

“There are problems across the board. In areas like West Berkshire
unemployment is down to about 1 per cent.”

By Ben Willmott

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