The UK economy is facing an emerging skills shortage, which threatens to derail recovery and undermine the country’s growth prospects

  • UK immigration reform critical to attracting more skilled overseas workers to meet current requirements
  • Only Spain, Portugal and Ireland in Europe suffer a greater talent mismatch than the UK

Talent mismatch problems have been exacerbated over the past year as the economy shows signs of recovery, opportunities are being created but the necessary skilled resources are unavailable.

Talent mismatch issues in the UK are particularly apparent in industries such as oil and gas, energy, IT and construction where niche skills are in increasingly high demand. In Europe, the only countries that face greater talent mismatch challenges than those of the UK are Spain, Portugal and Ireland – all economies badly affected by the Eurozone crisis.

These are the findings of the Hays Global Skills Index 2013, a report published today by Hays plc, the leading global professional recruiting group, produced in collaboration with Oxford Economics.

The report, titled ‘The Great Talent Mismatch’ and based on an analysis of employment markets across 30 major global economies, highlights the extent to which businesses and governments have to work together to build the right skills pipeline for sustainable recovery and growth.

While more positive sentiment on the economy is starting to gain momentum, more action from both government and the business community is required to address on-going skills shortages.

In particular, the UK government must  review its immigration policies to make them more geared towards attracting skilled workers that are in short supply locally, echoing Boris Johnson’s latest proposals for a ‘London visa’ to bring more talent into the capital in the areas of technology and fashion.

In the long term, education policy must be aligned far more closely with the needs of businesses. This also means motivating students towards the education required to meet the demands of industry, easing the transition for students into employment and ensuring the widest possible group of skilled workers across all generations are participating in the labour market.

Hays’ Chief Executive Alistair Cox said: “This year’s Hays Global Skills Index makes very clear that the pressure on the UK labour market is increasing. Too many skilled jobs are now going unfilled because the right skills are in increasingly short supply. This makes a real dent on a company’s ability to grow and constrains the UK’s economic prospects at a time when we need to be encouraging a sustained recovery.

Longer-term, business and government need to rebalance the education system to produce greater numbers of the skilled individuals that our industries need. In the short-term however, the only real route to fill these roles is revisiting the UK policies around skilled immigration. Policies are required which allow businesses to source the talent they now need, regardless of nationality. The alternative is to leave these skilled roles unfilled, leading to reduced investment, lower GDP growth and lower future job creation for the local workforce.”