Skill Shortages in the U.K. – A Look at the Gaps

Global Employability

When there is fundamental mismatch between the requirements of an industry and what individuals can offer, organisations suffer. The disruptions of the pandemic caused caused a tectonic shift in the way ‘work’ works. Digital up-skilling was no longer optional but became the order of the day. Both individuals and organisations are at a loss when the necessary up-skilling doesn’t happen. The whole world was and continues to be affected by it.

U.K.’s Position

U.K.’s story is slightly more complex, for the nation was not only affected by the pandemic but also faced severe economic ramifications of Brexit. Skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour that could comfortably move across mainland Europe and the U.K. is now no longer accessible to the British Isles. Without an influx of skills, U.K.’s numbers are staggering.

  • There are about 17.4 million high skilled jobs and only about 14.8 million high skilled workers.
  • About 48% of businesses have been trying to recruit workers with hard data skills of which 46% have struggled to find people in the last two years.
  • In the last two years, only 24% of the U.K. populace have taken part in re-skilling/ up-skilling programmes.
  • In 2020, U.K. employers spent £4.4 billion on temporary staff, recruitment fees and increased salaries because of difficulties finding employees with the right qualifications and experience.

Where exactly is the gap?

This amount of discrepancy hits the SMEs (Small and Mid-size Enterprises) the most as the larger occupations have the numbers to bridge the gap caused by missing skills.

Which domain, you ask? At present, U.K.’s largest concern is the lack of digital skills. The irony is that 82% of all jobs in the U.K. list digital skills as a necessary qualification. Right now, the demand is so much that digitally skilled people make almost 30% more. Despite the added compensation, organisations have been struggling to fill empty spots.

Let’s be very clear here, when we speak of digital skills, we mean way more than navigating MS Office. Digital skill sets include e-commerce, coding, data analytics, and design, to name a few. With the emphasis laid on big data in today’s world, the ability to read, analyse and interpret data is becoming more essential with each passing day. Soon, AI will also become a part of the digital skillset.

Sectors that need the most number of digitally skilled candidates

  • Finance and Insurance
  • Information and Communication
  • Real Estate
  • Science and Tech
  • Admin and Support Services

Source: HAYS Recruiting Experts

The hurdles

Is it only the people’s unwillingness to learn that causing such a deep chasm? No, there are other factors at play. The rapid automation and leaps in technological advancements can be overwhelming. Lack of budget, difficulties integrating with existing processes or even lack of support from organisations all contribute to the huge digital skills gap that the U.K. is facing.

The solution

is fairly simple. It begins with identifying the gaps and balancing the amount of new skilled talent that comes in along with a conscious attempt being made to retain and re-train existing talent. From an individual standpoint, it is about embracing the fact that learning never stops. It also means that it is good time foe you to consider the U.K. as a prospective study/ work destination. The Graduate Immigration Route will make your work permits simpler.

Besides the digital skills gap, shortage of skilled workers in specific domains is compiled by the U.K. Visa and Immigration Office. Here is the latest list you can look into.

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Global Employability


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