APSCo: UK vacancies soar as skills gap threatens Britain

UK professional hiring increased by four per cent in December 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, according to new research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

However, the organisation warns that while the economy is predicted to grow by 2.6% in 2016, looming skills shortages continue to “pose a clear risk to UK prosperity.”

“The growth of permanent vacancies has been remarkably stable since the beginning of 2015, and macro-economic factors, geo-political threats and a very jittery stock market have, so far, not damaged demand for professional workers in the UK,” John Nurthen, Executive Director at Global Research for Staffing Industries Analysts, explains. The company compiled the research on behalf of APSCo.

“With an employment rate the highest since records began in 1971 and government imposed cap on sponsored skilled workers from abroad in place, employers are clearly faced with a challenging environment to source the skills they need to grow their businesses. While forecasters are still predicting positive economic growth this year, these skills shortages pose a clear risk to UK prosperity.”

The professional hiring rate in the UK did not increase evenly across all sectors. For instance, the finance and accounting sector’s and the media and marketing sector’s hiring grew by 16% and eight per cent respectively. Conversely, vacancies in engineering and IT dipped by 14% and four per cent respectively in December 2015, compared to the same month in 2014.

Ann Swain, CEO at APSCo, believes that the trend will continue in 2016 as the UK “economy continues to be a remarkable job-creating machine.”

Additionally, the report reveals that the median salary across all sectors grew by 5.5% year-on-year.

Swain is not surprised. She explains: “At a time when the UK is suffering from highly publicised skills shortages across sectors as diverse as construction, education and healthcare it is no wonder that professional salaries continue to climb. The war for talent is raging as organisations scramble to get their hands on the best people to facilitate future growth and productivity.”

And it seems that she is not alone in worrying about the skills shortages. Earlier this week, Robert Half published a report that revealed that 99% of senior finance executives in London claim that recruiting the right level of professionals will be a huge challenge in 2016.

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