A new report unveiled today the British Chambers of Commerce, UK Skills: Making the Grade, has uncovered the increasing difficulties British businesses face in finding employees with the right skills.

55% of employers said that they find it more difficult to recruit skilled employees today than five years ago, revealing the true extent of the worrying skills gap in British workers. The report strengthens the need for the Government to place business needs at the heart of plans to revise vocational training for young people and adults. 

The survey also found that businesses find it difficult to access training. The cost of training, time taken away from the businesses in order to attend training courses and limited eligibility for government funding were the main barriers cited by businesses.

Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce & Industry Chief Executive, Tim Hutchings, said,” the results of this survey are of no surprise, we invest a great deal of time promoting the need for greater skills to business and skills providers in the county. Whilst we all need to do a great deal more the government needs to reconsider it’s approach to skills training and provide what businesses actually want”.

David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce says; "As the effects of globalisation are more widely felt it is imperative that the UK workforce is highly-skilled if our economy is to remain competitive. The current education and vocational training system is failing to provide workers with the skills that businesses need. If this is not effectively addressed UK businesses will be seriously disadvantaged."

While the BCC recognises the effort the Government is making in increasing the skills base in the UK, certain parts of the Government's skills strategy have to be improved for example only a sixth of employers felt that their Sector Skills Council effectively represented their needs. 

Louise Potter, the British Chambers of Commerce Policy Advisor for UK Skills says; "Businesses recognise the importance of skills which is why they spend on average £350, per employee, per year on training. However, for many small businesses it can be difficult to absorb this cost. Government support initiatives such as Train to Gain are the right way forward in engaging more SME's in training and we will be working with them in increasing awareness of the scheme amongst SME's.

Amongst the key findings of the BCC report UK Skills: Making the Grade: 

  • Over 55 per cent of businesses find it more difficult to recruit skilled staff than they did five years ago. 
  • Smaller employers do train their staff. Over 83 per cent of those surveyed source external training for their employees. 
  • The main barriers to training are a lack of financial resources and a lack of staff to cover employees in training. 
  • Of those businesses surveyed, 33 per cent have heard of Train to Gain. Just under 6 per cent have taken part in the scheme and of those 87 per cent were satisfied or very satisfied with the service received. 
  • 304 Businesses were surveyed in this report.