Narrowing skills gaps within your business can reduce recruitment strains

Posted on: Thursday 20 June, 2019
Man with Suit

Skills gaps are becoming a growing issue across the UK. The uncertainty of Brexit, an aging workforce and the lasting impacts of the recession are all contributing to the problem – but recent research is showing that it could be much bigger than we think.

Research by Bidwells has shown that the number of new vacancies in key sectors across the UK are far higher than the number of enrolments at University in the same subject. There’s a continuous demand for highly skilled employees in growing sectors, and not enough people to fill them.

Technology, construction and education have the highest gaps of job vacancies, but they’re not the only shortfalls. There’s also huge gaps in health and social care, manufacturing and IT.

Industry Vacancies 2018 Enrolments 2017 GAP
Professional and Scientific Tech 72,000 21,970 -69.49%
Construction 28,000 9,310 -66.75%
Education 50,000 16,745 -66.51%
Health & Social Care Work 133,000 64,115 -51.79%
Manufacturing 59,000 34,020 -42.34%
Information & Communication 44,000 26,100 -40.68%
Admin, Finance & Insurance 94,000 79,095 -15.86%


Data: ONS average industry vacancies 2018 and HESA full-time, first degree university enrolments 2017.

Source: Bidwells

Unemployment rates are at the lowest they’ve been since 1974. Only 3.8% of the population aged over 16 are classed as unemployed; filling vacancies has become harder than ever because the candidates who are skilled enough to do the job aren’t looking for work or passionate, hard-working individuals don’t have the qualifications to do the job.

As an uncertain future surrounding Brexit looms closer, skills gaps are only going to increase. The likelihood is that skilled migrant workers will find elsewhere to work due to worry over the implications that leaving the EU holds.

Our EU workforce isn’t the only strain, the increasing digitisation of the world we live in means businesses and employees have to be able to constantly adapt our skills so that we don’t become out of date. Whilst this is a positive thing as it’s providing more jobs across the country, there’s a severe lack of people to fill those roles.

Businesses need to take charge. A key way of combating the shortfalls is to look to your current workforce and the opportunities they have to upskill. For businesses who are struggling to recruit the right candidates, looking at existing employees and thinking about training opportunities can help to build a future proof workforce.

Utilising all opportunities that apprenticeships present is a key way to upskill your staff to give them the qualifications and knowledge they need to fill those ever-growing gaps. No longer are apprenticeships just for school leavers and young people, anyone can enrol onto a relevant apprenticeship programme – and some of the sectors with the biggest skills gaps have fantastic programmes, including IT and technology, construction and trade and health and social care.

Research by JobSite has also found that 52% of talent shortages will be felt at mid-management level, what many businesses don’t realise is the opportunity to enrol staff, of any level, on to advanced and higher level apprenticeships – perfect for any potential leaders in your business – even if they already hold a degree.

It’s not just apprenticeships that can be used to give your employees the skills they need to fill those gaps. Short-term flexible courses can provide quick solutions and can be a very cost-effective way to provide training to your staff as many can be offered 100% funded.

Vacancies are only going to get harder to fill. Embracing the passionate, hard-working, forward thinking individuals applying for our roles and utilising available funding to give them the skills our businesses need is becoming more and more prevailing. The need to continuously adapt and learn new skills is crucial for survival in the current climate and having those in our organisations with the right attitude and drive to learn is priceless.

If you’d like to speak to me about narrowing your skills gaps, contact


Written By: Brenda McLeish, CEO, Learning Curve Group | Thursday 20 June, 2019

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