It will come as no surprise to many that the UK skill shortage is an ever-growing problem that seems to be worsening with Brexit reviews and apprenticeship levy problems.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel and although it might seem a long way off – the skills shortage can be resolved with the right outlook and the right methods of moving forward.
A recent article in The Sunday Times from Peter Evans highlighted a particular area in the UK – Middlesbrough, home to a ‘host of growing businesses’ but struggling due to a lack of the right skills. Stressing that whilst unemployment in the North East is currently at its lowest in decades (5% for the past year) this brings with it the problem that there are not enough qualified people to fill roles being advertised.
Workers need to continue developing their skills and qualifications but in doing so this puts a strain on employers who end up paying over the odds for their employers to keep them in position, or they let them go – unable to meet the employee’s needs who are now more qualified and wanting a pay-rise for example, but in turn suffer from losing those lack of skills within the business.
So how do we find a solution to this problem?
Dominic Lusardi, Managing Director at Animmersion, was quoted in the Sunday Times article: “It’s not about the availability of people – there are plenty people. What we see is a shortage of the right sort of skilled labour.”
Is upskilling the answer? Are apprenticeships the way forward?
A survey from the Scale Up Institute found that “the challenge to find and develop the right talent and skills is viewed by scale up leaders as the single most significant barrier to growth.”
University is no longer seen as the be all and end all of starting your chosen profession, now apprenticeships and working straight from school are considered by many as an alternative route more than ever before. Apprenticeships allow people to earn and learn, which is perfect for employers paying the levy who get to use their pot of cash whilst gaining valuable workers who, if trained correctly, often continue to work at their employment long after their apprenticeship is over.
Apprenticeships can also be used to upskill and train those staff already within their workforce – many employers are paying the levy anyway, so why not use it to fill the gaps within your business?
Not.a.CV can be used to find great apprentices who are looking for employers. Employers can approach colleges or training providers, gain access to their pool of available learners and pick and choose who they want to shortlist, interview, before ultimately employing them all in one system. Employing an apprentice has never been easier!
The survey also stated, “tackling this challenge and building a national pipeline of talent and modern skills remains a priority which will only be solved if the ecosystem works collaboratively together to address it.”
The shortage of skilled workers varies across a number of careers, from the perhaps more obvious NHS to top skilled chefs, school teachers, digital skilled people and more. With nursing apprenticeships now available from more organisations and the cost of learning ever increasing – a nursing apprenticeship could be a worthy option.
We are living in the age of technology and businesses are having to evolve with this, but without these skilled digital workers who can code, create networks and more they will struggle to keep up with demand.
STEM subjects have always been perceived as more male orientated, but more companies are now realising that encouraging females to take on careers that are seen as masculine jobs can help to close the skills gap. This encouragement starts from school age, where leavers are considering what career path to take.
Ofsted has reported that ‘the career guidance within schools is improving. It sees evidence of integrated, coherent and effective career strategies in more school, with more frequent opportunities for pupils to access workshops, themed events, work experience and contact with employers.’
Upskilling starts from school leavers, who have the opportunity to be picky with the career path they choose, to cut back on the skill shortage, schools, employers, training providers and more must ensure that the right information is there and targeted in an exciting way to create a desire for those subjects and skills that are harder to fill.
Working collaboratively is the way to solve this issue, whether it is encouraging apprentices, upskilling current employees or filling the gaps with new learners from school. It can be done – if only everyone worked together to try.