THE BLOG

Skills Shortage Vacancies: Making the Most of the Economic Upturn Through Greater Investment in Skills

08/07/2014 10:24 BST | Updated 06/09/2014 10:59 BST

Job vacancies here in Wales have seen a 14 per cent increase over the past two years, allowing more people than ever to get into the jobs market.

The statistics highlighted in the UK Commission for Employment and Skills' (UKCES') Employer Skills Survey Wales Report, which was released last month, showed that there were more than 3,000 more vacancies available in Wales at the time of interview in 2013 compared to 2011.

This is very promising news, which shows us that widespread theories surrounding UK economy growth are slowly becoming reality and, importantly for employers here in Wales, that Welsh businesses are involved in this growth too.

As Commissioner for Employment and Skills in Wales, therefore, it was disappointing in the same report to find that in some sectors, almost a third of vacancies are not being filled due to skills shortages.

Skills shortage vacancies are those where employers are unable to find a recruit with the right skills to do the job, and the latest Employer Skills Survey showed that, for example, 44% of vacancies available within skilled trade occupations were suffering from such a scenario.

Overall, employers were found to be struggling to fill one fifth of all job vacancies due to a lack of applicants with the required skills, qualifications or experience. For those employers whose recruitment difficulties were all related to skills shortages, nine out of ten said the inability to recruit staff due to skills issues was leading to increased workloads for other employees, and this highlights the growing importance of ensuring employers have staff with the right skills.

As industry leaders looking to capitalise on the benefits of the expected upturn the need for a heavier investment in skills and training has, therefore, never been greater.

Encouraging deeper engagement between key employers and learners at an earlier stage in their careers, through increased provision of traineeships, apprenticeships and other work-based learning schemes, is just one of the ways we can combat this issue.

If businesses are able to offer a transparent and viable pathway to full-time employment from the word go they will not only gain greater access to the skills they need, but also have chance to nurture the talent they find in a way best suited to them.

Annual events including last month's Adult Learner's Week, a celebration of lifelong learning, are helping to raise awareness of the benefits such investments can bring.

But closer links between employers and training providers can still be improved upon to help find solutions. By creating more collaboration between both sides perhaps we can ensure future skills shortages are avoided, with employers giving training providers accurate information on the skills they need, and education providers tailoring courses to create more employable recruits.