The worsening skills shortage is the biggest threat to Britain’s competitiveness next year, the CBI has warned.
In its annual snapshot of the jobs market, the business lobby group and Accenture, the consultancy, found that one half of businesses were planning to expand their workforce next year and that permanent jobs were expected to outstrip temporary positions. However, the skills gap will prevent positions being filled.
For the first time in the survey’s history, concerns over a lack of skilled workers has overtaken the burden of employment regulation as the greatest threat to competitiveness.
Skills shortages have been particularly rife in the construction sector, with reports of some companies in London and the northwest having to pay bricklayers about £1,000 a week, twice as much as last year, as demand for their services soars. Manpower, the recruitment company, found recently that in some cases lorry drivers for the retail sector were earning £22 an hour, compared with £11 at the start of the year. Katja Hall, deputy director general at the CBI, said: “It is a concern that the UK’s growing skills gap is now seen as the number one workforce threat to the long-term health of its economy. The government and companies must make sure that workers are equipped to develop skills within the workforce.”
Despite the warnings, jobs growth is expected in every region of Britain, with Scotland leading the way.
Prospects for young people have improved, and many bosses said that they planned to recruit graduates and apprentices in 2015, according to the survey of companies that employ a total of 1.25 million workers.
Jobs for permanent staff are increasing more rapidly than temporary posts, with a balance of +28 per cent of companies planning to raise permanent hires and +16 per cent their temporary workforce.
The survey also found that pay rises were widely anticipated next year, with the most firms since the CBI started the survey in 2008 planning to at least increase pay in line with the retail prices index.