UK jobs and skills gap: It’s time for corporations to completely re-evaluate the way they think about hiring

 
Tara Sinclair
The solution may not be in pay packets alone

Unemployment reaching a 10 year low, as reported in the latest UK Labour Market statistics, is positive news for job seekers as the employment landscape continues to shift more in their favour.

However, with the market for top talent becoming increasingly competitive, employers are struggling to find the right candidates for their roles.

High-skill professions such as nursing, teaching and software development are suffering most from this reduced talent pipeline – in fact, our new hiring lab report published today uncovers that the ratio of relative jobseeker interest to employer demand for these roles in the UK is 0.16, 0.19 and 0.13 respectively.

This kind of mismatch between job seekers and vacant positions is often blamed upon low wages. This has certainly been the case amongst the nursing and teaching professions – both of which have recently suffered pay cuts.

However, while salaries are important to jobseekers, if employers are to overcome this rising skills shortage, they may not find a solution in pay packets alone.

The tech sector is all too aware that throwing money at the issue is not a long-term solution. Corporations in this space have attempted to overcome shortages in Java skills – the most widely used programming language – by drastically raising wages.

Indeed’s data uncovers that the average role for skilled Java workers offers a salary of approximately £60,000 – more than double the average salary of open positions across all industries, which stands at £26,600.

Yet, even this pay boost hasn’t overcome the shortage of software developers - worldwide, the share of job postings calling for Java skills is still five times greater than the share of searches for this skill, although other research from Indeed does suggest some improvement in the overall gap.

Beyond salaries, employers need to pay close attention to the wider expectations and demands of their candidates, if they are to draw in the best talent. Our research shows that flexible and remote working is another key priority for these in-demand employees – and is consequently something employers should take on board when hiring.

That said, while offering more flexible working options can draw in existing talented employees – it will do little to overcome the sheer lack of job seekers with the skills required to fill specific tech, teaching and nursing roles.

As the skills gap widens - in spite of rising rates of educational attainment in the UK - corporations need to take matters into their own hands to provide employees with the skills they need.

It’s time for corporations to completely re-evaluate the way they think about hiring. If they can’t source candidates with the right skills or qualifications, enterprises need to embrace candidates who are the right fit for the job in terms of culture, experience and willingness to learn – and invest in offering them the opportunity to gain specific qualifications on the job.

In a tight labour market, addressing barriers to education and self-advancement is a more valuable investment than outbidding competitors.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Related articles