Skills shortage threatens UK's growth plans

by Kevin Reed

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20 May 2014

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A SKILLS SHORTAGE could hamper UK business' growth prospects, a new survey finds.

A quarter of UK business leaders are looking to increase headcount by up to 5% in the next 12 months, with a further fifth planning up to 8% and a similar number looking to increase headcount by more than 8%, according to PwC's survey of 1,300 global business heads.

But two-thirds (64%) of UK businesses are concerned that they will fail to find the people they need to fill their positions - a higher proportion than any of their western European counterparts. Technology and engineering firms report the most chronic shortage of skilled employees.

They are having to look abroad to bring in workers, have been priced out as high-growth countries such as China and India due to increasing labour costs. Instead, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines have become a new source of talent.

"Despite rising business confidence equating to more jobs, organisations are struggling to find the right people to fill these positions, said Jon Andrews, HR consulting leader at PwC. "CEOs believe the gap between the skills of the current UK workforce and the skills their businesses need to achieve growth is widening.

"With two thirds of UK CEOs planning to hire more people in the next 12 months competition for talent will be intense. People with tech-based skills, such as cloud computing, mobile technology and data analytics, will be in strong demand but this is also the area with the biggest skills shortage.

"Business leaders are looking for people with a far wider range of skills than ever before. Gone are the days of life-time careers; chameleon-like employees who apply their skills whenever and wherever they're needed are now in high demand."

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