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Skills shortages are likely to worsen says CBI

Acute skills shortages are holding back businesses across many sectors, including manufacturing, construction and professional services, according to new research by the CBI.

This year's CBI/Pearson Education and Skills survey polled 500 companies that together employ over three million people just before the EU referendum. SMEs accounted for nearly a third of respondents (31%). The findings show that, even before the leave vote, firms were anticipating a growing skills gap.


The vote to leave the European Union only heightens the urgent need for action says the CBI. There is specific concern about future shortages - 69% of businesses are not confident about filling their high-skilled jobs in future (up from 55% in 2015).


Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director General, said: 

"Skills are a top business priority but over two-thirds of firms don't think they will be able to get the people they need. The recent announcement of new high-quality vocational routes to sit alongside A-levels was a positive step … Now the priority is getting the Apprenticeship Levy fit-for-purpose."

The key findings of the survey show that:


  • There is a growing demand for higher skills: over three-quarters of businesses (77%) expect to have more jobs for people with higher-level skills over the coming years and needing more people with leadership and management skills;
  • Firms are committed to developing talent in-house; with only 42% of training done externally, the majority use an in-house dedicated training and development budget (76%), mentoring and coaching opportunities (68%) or support employees to study part-time (73%).


Rod Bristow, President of Pearson's UK business, said: 

"This is an important reminder, at a time when some say too many people go to university, employers are 'voting' for greater access to higher education with their job offers. We need a more informed debate about the skills higher education offers ... Another important finding from this year's survey, is that employers see academic and vocational qualifications as having equal stature. No coincidence then, that BTEC combined with A level is now the fastest growing route to university."

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