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Skills Shortage: Finding the right person for the job costs UK plc £1.7 billion

Barely a week goes by without a story in the news about skills shortages in the UK economy, whether at the macro level, in particular sectors or regions. These skills shortages are set to grow in the coming years as a result of Brexit and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Yet, with the closure of the UK Commission on Employment and Skills (UKCES) there is now no organisation keeping track of the size and shape of skills shortages in the UK. What results is a disparate and confusing picture.

The Edge Foundation has stepped forward to convene a Skills Shortage Analysis Group bringing together the key organisations and academics with an interest to share plans, research data and messages.

The Group will support us to produce a regular series of Skills Shortage Bulletins presenting key recent data and analysis in one place for the first time.

This is the first of those bulletins. It features latest data from organisations including CBI, British Chambers of Commerce and the DfE, as well as a specific focus on Engineering, highlighting the need for 203,000 people with Level 3+ engineering skills per year to meet expected demand. The second bulletin will cover the digital sector, and the third will look at creative industries.

The key messages from the data are clear. There are significant skills shortages across our economy, those shortages are growing and they are costing our businesses dear – more than £1.7bn according to Open University research.

Employers are looking for individuals with work experience and key skills like resilience, adaptability and creativity above the paper qualifications that are often only used to sift. Many are concerned that recruits from education are not sufficiently prepared for work. This may be exacerbated by a narrow approach to recruitment.

Do get in touch (onewton@edge.co.uk) if you have views or would like to contribute – it is essential that we all work together on this vitally important issue.