UK employment is at one of its highest levels since the 70s, but with the advent of new technologies and industry applications, skills are not keeping pace with demand. This is why it’s so important for employees to look beyond their current roles and seek to develop new skills that could help them in the future when it comes to looking for a new job.
High employment is creating a new skills gap
Yet, despite the growing skills gap, the City & Guilds Group has just published a report that suggests that it’s employers who are not doing their bit to help create the skills base that is so desperately needed in the economy. While 75% of workers agree that it’s important to update their workplace skills irrespective of age or where they are in their career, less than half of workers are being given the opportunity to do so by employers. In fact, nearly a quarter said they weren’t getting enough feedback from their managers on what skills they needed to learn to contribute more to the companies they work for.
With the uncertain effects of Brexit on the job market, low unemployment, and fast technological change, this is the precise time that employers need to begin to focus on helping workers gain the skills of the future. By doing so not only will they be equipping their organisations with the tools to thrive, but they’ll also be making sure that they retain the best staff.
The best time to learn a new skill is now
Significantly, it’s those aged over 55, as well as those in part-time roles that are receiving the fewest development opportunities, despite a growing acceptance that older workers may play a bigger role in making up the shortfall in working force in the future. As for those in part-time jobs, typically, these are workers that have more spare time to devote to training or to study for new qualifications.
So perhaps it’s up to workers to take the first step in order to influence change. If there is no motivation from employers to initiate development programmes, then employees can do their own research into what they can be doing to develop new skills that can future-proof their jobs. After that, they can actively engage with their managers and demonstrate how learning a new skill, or gaining new qualifications can be of benefit to the business.
Employers need to look to the future
What seems to be stopping employers from encouraging employees from taking up training opportunities tends to be the fact that they have to take time off work to learn new skills, which in turn leads to further staff shortages during the working week. But it’s a problem companies have to look at solving if they want to thrive in a high employment economy with a skills gap.
The current high employment trend has led to skills shortages, higher wages and a squeeze on company profits, as companies invest more to recruit the best talent with the skills that they need. But vacancies continue to grow in most sectors – even in leadership and management roles. What companies need to be doing instead is investing in the staff they already have to meet the skills gaps they have in their organisations.