Skills shortages identified as greatest threat to UK growth

UK employers see skills shortages as a greater threat to business performance than falling consumer spending and rising oil prices, according to new research by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

More than eight in 10 employers (84%) surveyed by the DfES predict that their business will be threatened in 2006 by a lack of skilled personnel to fill recruitment needs.

This compares to 75% of businesses which said rising oil prices and falling consumer spending – subjects that have caused predictions of doom and gloom over the past few months – would cause problems in the coming year.

Seventy-four per cent of companies said they were already having problems due to a lack of skills among their existing workforces.

The poll of more than 200 senior managers also reveals that 85% of employers believe a combination of academic knowledge and work-based experience provides the best preparation for graduates entering the workforce. Yet one in three (32%) said they were not involved with any kind of vocational training for their workforce, let alone committed to the design of courses to help meet their specific business needs.

Bill Rammell, minister for lifelong learning, further and higher education, said that more UK employers needed to commit themselves to the design and delivery of foundation degrees.

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