Friday 18 September 2015 5:17 am

Mind the skills gap: Talent shortage costs UK economy £10bn a year

The economy is losing billions of pounds a year because firms cannot access the skills they need, one of the country’s top economists has warned. 
There are currently 170,000 more unfilled job vacancies compared with the average for the 2001-14 period, PwC senior economic adviser Andrew Sentance writes in City A.M. today – a figure equivalent to the population of Hammersmith.
At current wage levels, the cost of unfilled vacancies amounts to a whopping £10bn of lost GDP this year.
Chief financial officers at top firms are more worried about the skills gap than any other threat to their businesses, according to a recent survey. 
The research, carried out by the Institute of Chartered Account­ants of Scotland, shows that the skills shortage is more concerning than the danger of Britain leaving the EU, or of an economic slump in China. 
Top recruiters and prominent figures in London’s bustling tech industry have told City A.M. that strict rules on bringing non-EU talent to the UK are a major root of the problem, and are strangling firms’ growth prospects.
The Conservatives’ immigration minister James Brokenshire has hit out at businesses for being over­reliant on foreign workers.
Sentance calls for a focus on bringing through home-grown talent. 
The skills shortage is having knock-on effects on other parts of the economy, Sentance writes.
One of the most acute skills shortages is faced by the construction sector, which is exacerbating Britain’s house building crisis and leading to plummeting affordability.