Skills Shortage forces Overseas Recruiting

Small Business News – 16th November 2007

A skills shortage is making London businesses struggle to compete and firms are increasingly looking to recruit staff from overseas according to research by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and KPMG.

Not only is there a lack of skilled graduates but also of lower-skilled staff too.

The results from the London Business Survey show that 65% of the capital’s firms expect a skills shortfall in the next 6 months whilst 58% of businesses are already recruiting from abroad to fill skills gaps.

Of those companies looking to recruit overseas 29% said they would be increasing their recruitment outside the UK and, contrary to the opinion that overseas workers perform lesser-skilled jobs, 83% of companies are recruiting workers with higher skills at degree level.

Whilst the London Business Survey showed 57% of respondents believing one of London’s leading assets to be its talent pool, 24% warned that one of the main threats to London’s competitiveness is the lack of skills.

Of those questioned in the survey, the skill sets cited as lacking included:

  • 40% – teamworking, communication & positive attitudes
  • 39% – technical skills as
  • 33% – managerial skills (up from 22% in March 2006!)

The demand for skilled graduates is set to rise with a corresponding 68% of business having higher expectations of future skill levels.

As for GCSE-qualified workers, just 21% of bosses say they will be looking for more staff at this level whereas 30% have indicated they will need less.

Demand for graduates is set to increase, with 68% of employers expecting their higher level skills needs to grow. By contrast, while 21% said they will need more people with skills at GCSE level, 30% said they will need less.

John Cridland, Deputy Director-General of the CBI, said that the shortfalls in skills are being felt "across many disciplines and at all levels". Although there are more workers from abroad filling lower-skilled positions he points out that the choice of graduates to small business is also under threat from foreign graduates who are "of a higher quality and are more employable".

In order to rectify this situation for London and Britain’s future top-flight workers, John Cridland advises that UK graduates need "better careers advice and stronger employability skills in areas like teamworking and communication."

Ian Barlow, Senior Partner for KPMG in London, said that it was important that

"Young people must leave education with the skills that businesses need, not just paper qualifications."


"This survey clearly demonstrates how much employers value basic and employability skills in preference to just qualifications. This points the way to how the education and skills agenda needs to be redirected under the leadership of the business-led London Employment and Skills Board."

The full survey results are to be published in December.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>