Employers risk fuelling UK skills crisis

Here’s why

UK professionals lack the essential skills to perform their roles, and feel woefully unsupported by their employers as they seek to keep pace with the modern workplace. 

New research from ILM – the UK’s leading specialist provider of leadership qualifications – reveals that almost two thirds (62 per cent) of UK professionals say they are not “very well equipped” to do their job. Even more workers (69 per cent) feel unprepared for the changing workplace, warning that they will need to acquire new skills in order to do their job in the next two to five years.

Despite being acutely aware of the need to adapt, and having a strong desire to develop their skills, the vast majority of UK professionals are being held back by a lack of focus and investment from their employers. Less than a quarter (24 per cent) of employees feel “very supported” by their organisation when it comes to learning new skills or attending training.

John Yates, Group Director at ILM, commented on the findings: “It’s somewhat alarming to see the scale of concern amongst UK workers.

“Already people are struggling to thrive in their current roles, limited by their existing skills, and are increasingly anxious about the future.

“With the majority reporting that they do not receive the support they need from employers to develop, a much larger skills crisis could be on the horizon.”

There is an ever-expanding range of new skills needed in the workplace, with the most sought after including IT/digital literacy (a priority for 17 per cent of people) project management (15 per cent) and negotiation, persuasion and resilience (14 per cent). The training methods preferred by professionals – learning on the job (59 per cent) and training on the job (33 per cent) – require significant buy-in from business leaders, heightening the impact of insufficient support.

By impeding workers from developing capabilities that will be crucial for their future roles, leaders risk exacerbating the skills void. City & Guilds Group’s 2016 Skills Confidence Report found that 67 per cent of employers identified this void as already adversely affecting organisational productivity and resource.

Yates added: “Closing the skills gap is a critical leadership challenge. Whilst many organisations actively encourage staff development, overall employees feel the current levels of support are inadequate.

“Our research shows that most individuals have a strong understanding of their development needs and goals, leaving leaders with a clear opportunity to take a more personalised and collaborative approach to building the essential skills for a successful future workforce.”

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