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Skills gaps threaten future of British business – LSC


According to a new report released today by the Learning and Skills Council, in 2002 nearly a quarter (23%) of companies reported a skill gap, up 7% on 2001. The Skills in England 2002 report shows that skill gaps are occurring because of the introduction of new technology; organisational change; the lack of training and HR development and changes in products or services.

The report, which contains data from a range of sources covering all business sectors and across the English regions, shows how skill deficiencies, as well as limiting existing business effectiveness, are also threatening England’s long-term competitiveness.

Skill gaps by industry, occupation and establishment size

- skill gaps - in all industries – are being felt particularly at a customer services level 24%; closely followed by shortages of ‘operatives’- 16%; and administrative/secretarial staff

- key sectors experiencing skills gaps are: manufacturing – 20%; wholesale, retail and hospitality – 29%; and finance and business services – 17%

- large employers notice the skills gap most - with 21% of organisations with 5-24 employers citing it as a problem, compared to 33% of organisations with 500+ employees

- communication skills were mentioned in relation to 61% of skill gaps overall

The impact of skill gaps on organisational performance

In particular skill gaps are resulting in:

difficulties meeting customer service standards (57%)
difficulties meeting quality standards (54%)
loss of business or orders (30%)
delays in developing new products or services (28%)

Other findings

Distribution and effectiveness of workplace training workplace training has increased but remains too focused on Health and Safety (78%) and induction (58%) rather than directed at increasing productivity or efficiency.

Access to training remains concentrated on the trained, highly qualified or skilled with manual/service workers, part-time and older workers least likely to receive training.

Training needs to be targeted more at enhancing the work skills of those who receive it if a real difference is to be achieved with regards to economic performance smaller organisations train least frequently and least intensively. They are less likely to provide off the job training or training that leads to a qualification. With fewer than 10 employees they represent a significant 80% of all establishments.

You can get a copy of Skills in England 2002 from the Learning and Skills Council’s website.

So we need more training to boost productivity, but does this really mean that we do TOO MUCH Health and Safety and Induction training? What's your view? Post comments below.


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