There is an increasing need across sectors to address the skills gap
In a post-pandemic world, advancements in technology are rapidly changing the way we live and the way we work. We’re living through an interesting part of history right now. People are interconnected through the internet, social media, and other platforms that allow us to stay in touch and innovate from anywhere in the world.
With these changes comes the requirement and adoption of new skill sets. Many industries have gone through tremendous transformations but are seeing that their workforce isn’t exhibiting these same changes – and oftentimes, it’s not through lack of trying.
Estimates suggest that by 2030, nearly 20% of the workforce will be significantly under-skilled for their jobs. As a result, many could find themselves being less productive in their work, less satisfied with it, or even out of work completely.
By tackling the skills gap, this figure could decrease entirely. But, this isn’t such an easy task given the amount of industries affected.
Some of the industries experiencing the brunt of this skills gap include:
- Digital Sector
- Finance & Business
Let’s have a look at why…
Manufacturing plays a huge part in the economy as well as innovation in general. Yet, 80% of employers within manufacturing are struggling to find people with the necessary skills to fill their vacancies.
Manufacturers are often looking for multiskilled workers. And there’s a definite increase in need for individuals who have skills in Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and automation – but there’s simply not enough people out there to meet demand.
This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, many of the experienced workers within the field are retiring faster and earlier, resulting in a lack of manufacturing knowledge to begin with. Those that are still involved in the manufacturing industry either aren’t willing to or don’t see the benefit of gaining skills in newly innovative technologies such as IoT. And this can be true at all levels of the business.
There’s also the concern that young people aren’t rushing to join the manufacturing industry. It’s largely seen as an old fashioned, low-paying and male-dominated industry. As such, the perception isn’t exactly flattering for those with high ambitions.
Of course, this perception doesn’t reflect the reality of most newly innovative manufacturing working environments. With the adoption of new, exciting technologies, manufacturing is far from the monotonous industry it was once considered.
In response to this skills gap, the manufacturing industry has begun focussing on upskilling their workers – and almost 90% of companies within the industry have policies in place for retraining employees. But, there’s still a lot to tackle.
It’s no surprise that with the rise of technology, the Engineering industry is facing some of the most challenging skills gaps across sectors. In fact, JobsOutlook’s monthly report suggests that Engineering and Technical permanent vacancies are in the top three most challenging roles to fill!
The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board reports that almost 20% of the current workforce is to retire by 2026. This leaves a skills, knowledge and experience gap for those that are left to take on the work of their predecessors.
And, if the UK is to address the skills gap, EngineeringUK suggests that a total of 186,000 engineers will be needed every year until 2024. These are staggering numbers!
But, it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, changes within GCSE options has led to an uptake in STEM subjects. This means there’s opportunity for students to get into engineering and widen the diversity of the talent pool – and address the skills gap. And the opportunity doesn’t stop with UK talent either. International students are coming to the UK in staggering numbers to study engineering and technology. For example, engineering and technology postgraduate courses account for over 65% of all Chinese student enrollments.
3. Digital Sector
It’s fair to say that companies have seen an increased reliance on digital skills within the course of the pandemic. Thus, the skills gap within the digital sector has become more pronounced than ever.
And it’s not just tech and online roles that are seeing a problem – digital skills are required across all sectors in today’s modern economy. Approximately 3 in 20 UK employers have admitted they face a digital skills gap among employees.
The reliance on digital skills is only set to rise. In fact, 60% of employers acknowledge that their reliance on advanced digital skills is set to increase over the next five years. More than 130,000 tech jobs become available every year in the UK, but students are currently leaving education with insufficient knowledge and experience to access these jobs. And even current employees admit that their digital skills are insufficient for their line of work.
There are many programmes out there seeking to overcome this digital skills barrier. WorldSkills UK seeks to “embed digital skills in our development programmes in all parts of the UK” and “champion the development of excellence in advanced digital skills”.
Our own careers information, advice, and guidance platform, OPUS by iungo, details the relevant education and work experience routes necessary to meet the skill and competency levels required for specific career roles, while detailing the skills an individual already hads.
Software has been on the rise consistently as industries seek to innovate and automate their processes. So, it’s only natural that the need for individuals with the skills and knowledge to implement this are highly sought after.
During the pandemic, reliance on technology increased practically overnight, and the same goes for software teams who were tasked with implementing new technologies to keep businesses viable throughout. Software development actually placed among the top three most desired skills of 2020. And it’s easy to see why.
In the software industry, it’s now a case of demand rapidly outpacing supply. It’s an issue that many businesses are facing. And we can’t rely on the government or educational institutions to fix this for the industry either. Conversely, the onus is on companies to provide more attractive working environments for their employees, as well as upskilling their current workforce. This isn’t a quick fix, but it’s one of the driving factors in retaining skilled and motivated workers in the industry.
5. Finance & Business
The Finance and Business industry is sometimes overlooked as one of the industries that is suffering from a pronounced skills gap. However, it may shock you to learn that over 60% of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) have had trouble finding suitable candidates to fill open finance vacancies.
Some of the biggest identified skills gaps among Finance professionals include: commercial aptitude; persuasion and influencing skills; and stakeholder management skills. This has led to Finance teams being unable to offer sufficient strategic support to the wider company.
However, the industry is looking to address this through the upskilling of current employees. Investing in internal development programmes that provide current employees with the skills they need to succeed is essential in addressing the skills gap.
The UK construction workforce is an aging one. There’s been a huge decline in the number of younger workers joining the industry over the past decade. Over 20% of tradespeople in the UK are over 50, while 15% are in their sixties. These demographics are quite shocking and show that something needs to be done to encourage young people to join the industry.
There’s hope to be had within immigration, however, as more than 70% of non-UK nationals working within construction are under 50. Yet even this has been complicated by the Brexit situation – with EU construction employees leaving the UK.
All of this results in huge labour shortages – and we’re seeing the results at the moment! There’s longer waiting times for materials and increased costs for those that the industry can acquire.
But, there’s hope for those looking to get into construction. There is work being done to attract people to the industry. These include: modernising construction techniques; challenging inequality within the industry; re-educating and upskilling workers; and encouraging a more diverse workforce.
The Logistics industry accounts for 8% of all UK employment, yet it is still facing a dramatic skills shortage. Reports suggest that 51% of logistics companies expect to see an increased skills shortage by 2024. But why is the skills gap so severe?
One factor is an ageing workforce. Road Haulage Association (RHA) data shows that over 80% of transport managers are over the age of 45. And over a third of those are between the ages of 55 – 64. This problem has, much like the construction industry, been impacted by the Brexit situation, with EU nationals leaving the UK in the thousands.
Not only that, but young people are not gravitating towards careers in logistics. However, there is work being done to target young people and make them aware of and excited about careers within transport and logistics. Employing young people addresses the issue of an ageing workforce and helps mitigate the digital skills gap that the industry is facing.
So, how can businesses address the skills gap?
We’ve touched on some of the methods each sector is adopting to help bridge the skills gap in their industries, but there’s a lot that can be done across all sectors.
The most obvious may not come as a surprise… But businesses need to invest in educating young people about opportunities within their business and their sector. Young people often aren’t aware of the breadth of career pathways available to them. OPUS by iungo aims to close this knowledge gap, but direct input and encouragement from businesses within each sector will have a huge effect on the interest of young people.
In addition, businesses can and should invest in apprentices and trainees. This helps ensure your business receives new, diverse individuals and expertise. It will also help impart necessary skills onto the apprentice in question, through the use of a mentor figure within the company. You can also use this mentor or “buddy” system outside of apprenticeships, to transfer tacit knowledge to current or new employees.
Companies should also be monitoring the shifts of employee expectations in the post-covid environment. This includes assessing and updating your Employee Value Proposition.
Leveraging schemes that help upskill their employees will also help combat the skills gap. The Welsh Government’s Personal Learning Account provides access to flexible, part-time courses to help upskill the Welsh workforce. Providing employees with training helps develop the necessary skills your employees need to succeed within their roles.
Additionally, you can contact us for bespoke training options for your business.