Vacancies left unfilled as skills shortage bites

Published in The Telegraph 

Construction and financial services among sectors worst hit as employers struggle to find suitable candidates for around 25pc of vacancies

In 2015, nearly a quarter of all job openings were left vacant because employers could not find people with the necessary skills or knowledge to fill them. This is a 130pc rise since 2011, according to the newly released 2015 Employer Skills Survey (ESS) from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

The UK’s modest economic recovery between 2011 and 2015 can partly explain the increase in skills shortages; businesses have ramped up their hiring to meet customer demand. It does not tell the whole story, however. “Education has not always been aligned with demand in the marketplace,” says Douglas McCormick, a UKCES commissioner.

“We have real shortages of skilled labour in construction and also in professional services. That’s because in prior years there hasn’t been enough investment in the people coming through.”

As the survey highlights, skills shortages in the construction sector are a real concern, since the sector contributes nearly £90bn to the UK economy, employs more than a million people and undertakes strategically important housing and infrastructure projects. Worryingly, employers struggled to fill one in three construction vacancies in 2015.

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