Lack of skills 'greater threat' than oil prices or consumer slowdown

Jan 13 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

British employers see skills' shortages as a greater threat to business performance than the rising price of oil or the fragility of consumer spending, new research has said.

The Government poll, which was looking at vocationally-based foundation degrees, found that eight out of ten employers predicted their business would be threatened in 2006 by a lack of skilled personnel to fill recruitment needs.

Furthermore, seven out of ten believed they could suffer from a lack of skills among their existing workforce.

Yet, despite recognising the enormity of the skills threat, fewer than one in ten had actually been involved in designing courses to help combat the skills issues that their business faced, said the Department for Education and Skills.

British companies also, it appears, resoundingly back vocational qualifications as a concept, with two in three businesses supporting vocational training provision, and 87 per cent believing there is a clear link between training and profitability.

Again, though there is a contradiction, as one in three employers are not involved with any kind of vocational training for their workforce, let alone committed to the design of courses to help meet their specific business needs, said the DfES.

Bill Rammell, minister for lifelong learning, further and higher education, said: "I am pleased to see employers continue to back vocational qualifications. I want more UK business leaders to come on board and commit to the design and delivery of foundation degrees."

Foundation degrees were introduced in the UK in 2001 and are designed in conjunction with businesses so they are specifically tailored to individual employers' needs and, in theory, help bridge sector-specific skills gaps.