Firms on the hunt for skilled staff face shortages

Education Secretary Justine Greening arrives at Downing Street. Photo credit: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire
Education Secretary Justine Greening arrives at Downing Street. Photo credit: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire
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Most firms expect to increase the number of highly skilled jobs in the next few years, but they fear there will be a lack of suitably qualified workers to fill them, a study has found.

The CBI said companies continue to voice concern about a lack of skilled candidates, and view careers advice given to young people as “overwhelmingly poor”.

A survey of 322 businesses found that over half highlighted a lack of candidates with appropriate qualifications.

Josh Hardie, the CBI’s deputy director general, said: “Skills have to be the beating heart of the UK’s industrial strategy – it’s the best growth strategy a country can have.

“More high-skilled opportunities are good news for our future and a sign we can make progress on productivity, but this is tempered by the growing urgency around skills shortages.

“Too often political meddling and piecemeal reform have been the over-riding feature of our skills system.

“Growing our skills base needs a greater focus on what skills provision actually achieves for a person or business, instead of just the existence of training or apprenticeships being judged a success.”

Last week Education Secretary Justine Greening called for a “skills revolution” as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

Ms Greening, who was born and raised in Rotherham, told business leaders at the British Chambers of Commerce Education summit of her plans to introduce ‘T-Levels’ for technical education.

She said: “Great companies need great people and my department has a mission to give our young people the very best start – to become those great people.”

An overwhelming majority of businesses said careers guidance was not good enough.

The CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey found that 84 per cent businesses do not feel the quality of careers advice young people receive in schools is good enough.

More than a third, 35 per cent, of businesses say there is too little guidance and support on how to make work experience places worthwhile for young people.

Firms believe there is a lack of awareness among young people of the education routes they need to take to enter particular careers and careers advice being poorly aligned to sectors, leading to skills shortages.

Businesses are actively engaging with schools to help support children and young people, with 81 per cent of those surveyed saying they have links to schools.

Mr Hardie said: “Quality of teaching, learning and careers inspiration defines the life chances of young people – it’s a shared challenge for us all.

“Businesses are committed to supporting schools, increasingly at primary level, to help bring lessons to life and open-up opportunities beyond the school gates.

“There is genuine alarm about the quality and consistency of careers advice available in many schools.

“Companies aren’t asking teachers to do more – schools need support to do this, from the long-awaited Careers Strategy, the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) and businesses rolling up their sleeves and helping.”

The CEC is a recently created body that has been tasked with improving links between businesses and schools.

Rod Bristow, Pearson’s President, UK and Core Markets, said: “Recent changes in the UK examination system have aimed to raise educational standards, ensure our qualifications are sufficiently challenging the young people taking them and raising the bar for students moving into HE and the workplace.

“Awareness and understanding across British business about the new 9-1 grading system is growing with one in four businesses understanding the changes.”

Takeaway restaurants’ success threatened by skills shortages

The growing success of takeaway restaurants is being threatened by a shortage of skilled workers, coupled with rising inflation and business rates, a new report has warned.

A campaign launched by the industry is calling on the Government to overhaul business rates, make sure the immigration system enables firms to access suitably qualified staff from the EU and address skills shortages in cuisines like curry, sushi, Chinese and fish frying.

The British Takeaway Campaign published research showing that takeaway restaurants contributed £4.5bn to economic output last year and employ over 230,000 workers.

Graham Corfield, managing director at online food ordering company Just Eat, co-founded the campaign.