Britain’s skills gap crisis is costing businesses more than £2bn a year

Companies are having to spend on higher salaries, temporary staffing bills, and recruitment costs, Open University reports. Brexit isn't expected to help.

The skills gap is costing British businesses approximately £2bn a year in recruitment costs and higher salaries, new research from the Open University suggests.

Surveying 400 UK firms across April and May 2017, 90% said that they had encountered difficulties in recruiting staff with relevant skills over the last year.

According to the Open University this is largely due to a combination of unemployment being low, those in employment being reluctant to move jobs because of Brexit uncertainty, and it’s also suggested that EU nationals are becoming deterred from taking up roles in Britain because of a lack of clarity about future immigration rules.

This has resulted in British businesses spending around £500m on higher salaries to tempt skilled workers, and spending around £1.7bn on recruitment consultants and temporary staff to find skills gaps.

Over the past 12 months, 56% of businesses agreed that they had needed to increase the salary on offer for a role “well above” market rate to get the skills they required – for small and medium businesses this increase averaged at £4,150 per hire.

For three quarters of the employers surveyed, the recruitment process was also suggested to be taking longer – at an average of one month and 24 days more than expected.

Solutions to the skills gap crisis?

Open University external engagement director, Steve Hill, believes the findings are cause for UK businesses to “look at recruitment, development and retention differently” and has encouraged business owners to do more to train their workforces.

Employers may also want to consider taking on an apprentice; as this is a proven way to build talent from scratch and upskill existing employees.

Businesses are also set to benefit in attracting new talent as the number of expats moving back to Britain continues to rise. Recent research from Movehub showed that there has been a 169% increase in the number of British expats looking to move back to the EU since July 2016.

For more advice in recruitment and hiring, read this expert HR advice for start-ups from an industry pro.

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