Employers look to existing staff to fill skills shortages

More than two-thirds of businesses in Britain have struggled to find the skilled workers they need this year, according to the 2019 Business Barometer from the Open University.

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Almost half of the 950 senior business leaders surveyed across the UK said they believed the existing skills shortage would only worsen once freedom of movement for EU27 nationals ends after the nation leaves the European Union.Nationally, the report says that organisations have spent £4.4 billion on temporary staff, recruitment fees and increased salaries in the past 12 months. With many employers experiencing difficulties in finding employees with the right qualifications and experience, organisations reported a 179 per cent rise in spending on recruitment fees."The skills shortage comes as the UK employment rate stands at the highest level since 1971, while unemployment is at its lowest since 1974. The dearth of skills in the labour market means that recruitment is taking one month and 21 days longer than anticipated, forcing many to seek external help," says the report.

Recruiter spending rising to attract necessary skills

"And while recruiter spending is on the rise in an attempt to attract necessary skills, there is also a greater focus on re-training existing staff, with 64 per cent of organisations increasing their training and development budgets in the past year by an average of 11 per cent."The report says that, in the past, many employers had relied on buying in talent rather than developing it within their organisations. Now, however, with 61 per cent expecting it to become harder to find the skills they need in the next 12 months, many are now looking to develop talent from within their businesses.

Employers looking to invest in training for existing workforce

David Willett, corporate director at the Open University, said, “It’s encouraging that employers are looking to invest in the talent of their existing workforce, with businesses increasingly turning to strategies that will serve their skills requirements for the years to come."While many are starting to focus more on building up skills from within, rather than buying them in, it is essential that training ultimately delivers results, while fitting around employees’ existing commitments.“Current uncertainties may see businesses understandably focusing on the short term, but initiatives like work-based training are essential for those looking to remain agile and competitive throughout in a rapidly changing business environment."Training, such as apprenticeships, provides a long-term solution to UK business looking to adapt to challenges on the horizon such as Brexit, digitisation and new technologies.” The report says that, over the past year, 57 per cent of respondents had reported hiring temporary staff to plug gaps, while half spent more than intended on recruitment fees. Some 36 per cent increased salaries to make roles more attractive, while 39 per cent said they had been forced to hire at a lower level than intended.Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory