The skills shortage in the UK has worsened for the fourth consecutive year

UK skills shortage among worst in Europe survey says

The shortage of engineering and technology talent in the UK threatens productivity growth and economic expansion, a survey has found. 

Compiled by recruitment group Hays and consultancy Oxford Economics, the Global Skills Index has revealed that skill shortages in the UK have worsened for a fourth consecutive year, now ranking among the most severe in Europe.

The engineering and technology sector is particularly affected, with employers virtually forced into a ‘war for talent’. The worsening skills shortage is adding pressure, as the economy is already struggling with weak productivity.

Hays published the sceptical outlook despite the unemployment rate having fallen to levels seen before the financial crisis and with the first signs of wage growth after years of stagnation.

"UK growth prospects are better than they have been in a long time but employers are facing ever-greater challenges around finding the talent they need," said Alistair Cox, Hays' chief executive.

"This can only mean that the productivity challenges we face as a nation will become even more severe."

Cox further added that the situation is made worse by the UK’s government policy that makes it too complicated for domestic companies to hire highly skilled workers from outside the EU.

Attracting foreign talent, he said, is a necessary part of the solution that also requires better training and more investment in technology.

According to the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development, half of UK companies have been struggling with low productivity and have failed to take measures including investing in staff and new technology that would help address the issue.

The UK government has unveiled plans earlier this year to boost productivity by training 3 million apprentices by 2020 to fill the skills gap in the most affected sectors including engineering.

A survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation earlier this month showed that job placements had been held up by a lack of skilled candidates.

More information

Read E&T's exclusive feature on the skills migration issue within the EU

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