This article is part of a series, the previous article was: Keep staff skilled up – it can save you money in the long run
With UK’s productivity figures 26 percentages points behind their US and European counterparts we have been looking at the skill base of the current workforce to meet the demands of the current economic swing.
At the moment even though the hours worked per employee is increasing, 30% of people surveyed would like to work more. Even with that 41% of employees felt they worked under constant pressure in their jobs and 30% believe they are over qualified for the position they currently held. If that is the case then how come Employers are complaining they are not able to find quality candidates with the right skills and experience to fulfil positions?
Increasingly companies are sourcing employees from the EU, 30% of companies approached indicated they will be sourcing vacancies from overseas markets. With the soaring cost of education discouraging many young people from continuing education it leaves a disparity between business requirements and the local skills available. The raising of tuition fees to £9000.00, which was supposed to fill education coffers will actually have the reverse affect as many graduates get stuck in mid skilled jobs and will have insufficient income to pay the loan off by 50 when the debt is written off.
All of this makes the recovery precarious as people with specialised skills will be able to demand increased salaries while mid skilled position will be left floundering. If the recovery produces unequal results then that will limit the spending power of a significant number within the population which in turn hamper the economy recovery.
What is known as the “working poor”, people whose take home pay no longer is able to make ends meet, now costs the UK government 21bn in tax credits. Around 5m workers earn two thirds of the median hourly rate. If this section of the workforce could be given access to more training opportunities and receive relevant qualifications that would alleviate their dependence on the state. As they earn more they increase their purchases from their local communities and contribute to nation’s taxation pot benefiting the nation as a whole.
There are a number of initiatives being proposed. Employers are looking for ways to have input into the education system so that graduates have more idea of what is expected when they reach the workplace. Joint apprenticeship schemes are being devised to give more on the job training experience and recognised nationwide qualifications. The SMF is a government backed scheme to encourage employers to train staff internally with cash incentives. Even so staff training is a double edged sword. Certainly in my field of software implementation, even when taking on experienced staff, the work is so complicated that it takes six months to train them up before they can be let out on their own. Yet if I don’t start training people to take these roles it will limit the business’s capacity to grow with demand. Most staff do appreciate the opportunity to improve their skill set but it is always a risk investing in people if they end up leaving anyway.
As our economy grows it will rely on our level of technical expertise to remain competitive. It is in the business community’s interest to make sure there is a steady supply of local talent in order to meet that demand.
Malcolm Ford has had 25 years’ experience in different industries and currently implements enterprise level software to increase efficiency in small to medium sized businesses.