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Optimism is high as we near the end of January – the recruitment industry is thriving and the year ahead looks promising for Pertemps. Unemployment has fallen to an 11-year low and businesses plan to increase their workforce as the year progresses. However, there is one challenge we face year after year. The national skills shortage.

Man multi tasking at work

I note with interest that Theresa May today plans to announce the government’s intentions to invest in areas including science where skills shortages are prevalent. The UK’s lingering skills shortage is a leading concern for businesses at the moment. With a limited amount of young people with the skills to meet employers’ needs, companies are struggling, leaving the UK in a weak position compared to our international competitors. This widespread issue will never be solved overnight, but here at Pertemps we can certainly try to make the lives of our clients easier by finding the right people for the right job.

The annual CBI/PNG Employment Trends Survey results in December show that nearly two thirds (64%) of respondents highlight skills gaps as a threat to the UK’s current labour market competitiveness.

Concerns are heightened due to the referendum result and the probable restriction of free movement, making it increasingly difficult for employers to access highly skilled migrants. As the UK is struggling to produce enough young people with the right skills, sourcing talent from abroad is convenient and something businesses are concerned could disappear.

Group of business people

These uncertainties need to be addressed. The government need to act and the education system needs to open up routes to gaining a higher skillset alongside degree courses. Companies are already doing their bit – 30% expect to create apprenticeship positions this year and 20% expect to create graduate roles.

The apprenticeship levy will be introduced this year also, which will open up more apprenticeship opportunities. This is welcomed news and shows that the UK is investing in the future – it’s no quick fix but it will certainly help boost skills among young people.

The recruitment industry is huge, worth more than the food and drink sector, advertising and the arts. It’s important for recruiters to focus on placing candidates in hard-to-fill positions now more than ever. Helping clients find talent for jobs eases their worries and is the key to improving employability. Even though challenges lie ahead, we are ready and determined to face them head on as usual!