Are skills gaps causing a problem for your business?
Updated: Nov 28, 2019
Many industries face skills shortages. The reasons for these can be complex. Some industries (many technological companies) are young, highly developmental and need cutting edge skills and knowledge. Some sectors just aren’t sexy for young people, or don’t provide great salary potential, horticulture being a good example of this.
Some sectors have fallen foul of changes in educational systems, for example the rise and fall and rise of apprenticeships meant a generation faced with few apprenticeship opportunities in certain trades. Government priority towards university education (which has both its good and bad points), and school focus on academic achievement (to enable access to university) reduced practical trade skills opportunities for young people who had less interest in academic pathways.
We’re starting to address this situation, but it still leaves many organisations in a situation where it’s difficult to recruit from a labour pool which lacks fundamental skills.
What can an SME do to address this? Apprenticeships are an obvious option but can be time consuming and costly. It’s worth being aware of the Apprenticeship Levy, a 0.5% tax on all UK employers with an annual wage bill of £3 million or more. It’s estimated that only 15% of the £3.9 billion paid into the Levy is currently being spent. Changes to the scheme mean that companies can ‘gift’ up to 25% of their Levy to fund new apprenticeships through support organisations like Total People. It’s well worth having a chat with TP if this is of interest for you, though I don’t know them personally.
If existing training courses don’t already suit your company’s skills needs, consider developing collaborative programmes with other companies in your sector. Coming together with a few other companies will enable you to create a ‘cohort’ of apprentice students, and your local college will probably be interested in having a conversation to deliver a programme that suits your needs, as it’s likely they can draw down a central government training budget.
Think creatively, don’t be afraid to shout about what you need, to make sure that new entrants into the labour market have the skills you need!