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Potential Recruits Lack Customer Service Skills


Employers are finding it hard to fill a quarter of vacancies because potential recruits do not have the required skills according to the National Employer Skills Survey (NESS) from the Learning and Skills Council.

The survey questioned 74,500 employers from a range of industries – and when asked to identify which skills were lacking, 38 per cent said customer handling while 35 per cent said basic oral communication.

Problem solving and teamwork skills were both reported as lacking by 34 per cent of respondents, 30 per cent said finding people with written communication skills was difficult.

Smaller businesses are more likely to find vacancies hard to fill while the hospitality and leisure industry reported the greatest difficulty in finding recruits with the necessary customer services skills. One in five employers in the sector report customer service skills gaps within their current teams.

Inexperience was the most commonly perceived cause of skills gaps (by 70 per cent) with lack of motivation the second most common cause. Failure to develop and train staff was cited by 23 per cent – a drop from 27 per cent in the previous survey.

David Way, director of skills at the LSC said: “While employers do not expect everyone who comes into the labour market to be the finished article there are key ‘soft skills’ such as the ability to communicate effectively and work in a team which gives individuals a strong chance of succeeding.

“Employers greatly value a positive ‘can-do’ attitude and it sounds very simple, but being polite, getting on well with colleagues and showing a determination to help, really make a difference.”

Joanna Yates, occupational psychologist at The Mind Gym comments: “Critical but often overlooked ‘soft skills’ such as the ability to work in a team and communicate effectively are becoming more and more significant in the fast-moving world of business. ‘Soft skills’ should be the focus of training schemes as we all have these skills inside us, but often we need to work at developing them to help us achieve our full potential.”

For full details of the survey, go to:


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