THE BLOG

Is the UK Heading for a Skills Crisis?

06/08/2014 17:42 BST | Updated 06/10/2014 10:59 BST

Britain is on the road to economic recovery, but to stay ahead we must consider how best to harness the talents of our unemployed young people.

While the crisis that rocked the UK economy has abated and British businesses are reporting heightened demand for their services, employers tell us they are increasingly concerned by skills shortages developing as a consequence of this accelerated growth.

Within The Skills Crunch, a new report from The Prince's Trust and HSBC, business leaders highlight the damage that skills gaps could do, not only to staff morale but to company survival rates. They also raise concerns about how they will struggle to grow in the future as their ageing workforces retire. In fact, more than half of British businesses are already struggling to fill vacancies. Two thirds fear skills shortages will slam the brakes on the UK's economic recovery (68%); while one in three fear it would cause businesses to fold (35%).

This is of course deeply concerning when we have hundreds of thousands of unemployed young people who are desperate for work.

We believe that now is the time for employers, government and charities - such as The Prince's Trust - to work together to tackle the UK's impending skills crunch and up-skill the workforce of the future.

We know that unemployed young people want to work and that employers have vacancies they want to fill. In fact, our report highlights that 72% of business leaders see the recruitment of young people as vital to averting a skills crisis.

Prince's Trust programmes are already helping employers to fill skills gaps with young people who are dedicated, passionate and grateful to have been given a chance - sometimes for the first time in their life. We also work in schools, helping to give young people the skills they need to find a job in the future.

Our employability schemes are run in partnership with employers in sectors which have identified skills shortages such as construction, retail and logistics. We help to break down the barriers between unemployed young people, who often have little hope for the future, and employers, resulting in real jobs with companies such as HSBC, Marks & Spencer, DHL and Balfour Beatty.

The Prince's Trust works with 58,000 disadvantaged young people each year, but with more support from the public and private sector - we could help thousands more.

Only by working together to invest in the next generation will we be able to avoid a skills vacuum in the future.

To download The Skills Crunch report and find out how your business can get involved with The Prince's Trust please visit: www.princes-trust.org.uk/skillscrunch