Skills shortfall grows despite increased awareness

increasing number of organisations reported a skills gap last year, new
research reveals.

to a report by the Learning and Skills Council, in 2002 nearly a quarter (23
per cent) of companies reported a skill gap, up 7 per cent on 2001.

Skills in England 2002 report shows that skill gaps are occurring because of
the introduction of new technology; organisational change; the lack of training
and HR development and changes in products or services.

report, which contains data from a range of sources covering all business
sectors and across the English regions, shows how skill deficiencies, as well
as limiting existing business effectiveness, are also threatening England’s
long-term competitiveness.

on the report, the chairman of the Learning and Skills Council, Bryan
Sanderson, warned:  "Skill gaps are
not just a problem now, they are a problem that’s building for the future.

is just the tip of the iceberg, as latent skill gaps are widespread. Many
employers are unaware of the skills needed, not only to improve their
performance, but to enable them to move into higher value-added markets. A key
challenge facing us is working with employers to break the vicious circle of
low skill equilibrium into which many organisations have slipped."

report shows:

Skill gaps, in all industries, are being felt particularly at a customer
services level (24 per cent), closely followed by shortages of ‘operatives’ (16
per cent); and administrative/secretarial staff

Key sectors experiencing skills gaps are: wholesale, retail and hospitality (29
per cent), manufacturing (20 per cent), and finance and business services (17
per cent)

Large employers notice the skills gap most, with only 21 per cent of
organisations with between five and 24 employers citing it as a problem,
compared to 33 per cent of organisations with more than employees

Communication skills were mentioned in relation to 61 per cent of skills gaps

By Ben Willmott

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