Unskilled candidates leave 23 per cent of jobs vacant, survey finds

A skills shortage is behind almost a quarter (23 per cent) of unfilled job vacancies – an increase of 43 per cent in just two years – new figures reveal.

The Employer Skills Survey, published today (28 January) by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), found that of a total of 928,000 vacancies in 2015, more than 209,000 were because employers could not find candidates with the requisite skills for the job.

This compares with 146,000 skills-shortage vacancies in 2013. The total number of unfilled positions has risen by 42 per cent in that time.


Behind in the three Rs

Some 91,200 employers from all sectors of UK business were questioned as part of the research. It reported that a quarter of job applicants were not proficient in basic skills such as reading, writing and numeracy. Overall, skilled trades and professional roles were the areas that were most affected.

When it comes to existing employees’ skills, 14 per cent of organisations say they have workers who were lacking. However, the gap in workplace skills has fallen since 2013.

The report said that “within this buoyant labour market, skill-shortage vacancies presented a growing challenge for employers in filling their vacancies”.

Training on the way up

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) said that boosting apprenticeships would be key in addressing the problem.

Responding to the survey, the AELP’s CEO Stewart Segal said: “We hear a lot about skills shortages but the survey finds that there are still 86 per cent of employers who think their workforce is fully trained and training at work is increasing slightly even though government has said that it’s been reducing over the last 10 years.

“Formal off-the-job training may have decreased but overall training levels have increased and this reflects the different ways people train at work.

“Many of the reported skill shortages are for entry-level jobs and in public services like teaching and health, so the apprenticeship reforms, including the levy, could make a real difference.

“We also agree strongly with the Commission’s comments on the need to address the skills of the existing workforce and not just new recruits. Apprenticeships at all levels can make a major impact in tacking this challenge.”