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Half of employers say Brexit will worsen skills gap

50% of businesses think Brexit will worsen the UK skills shortage in 2018, according to a research paper from Robert Walters, totaljobs and Jobsite.

The paper, titled ‘Solving the UK Skills Shortage’ reveals that almost two-thirds of employers (65%) believe that they will be negatively impacted by skills shortages in 2018, and one in four (23%) businesses believe Britain is not prepared to compete on a global stage due to this gap.

Chris Hickey, Robert Walters CEO – UK, Middle East and Africa, suggested that recruiters may need to innovate in order to succeed. “While the ultimate impact Brexit may have is not yet clear, it is possible that employers will have to revise recruitment strategies to compensate for the lack of easy and simple access to professionals in Europe,” he said.

“Developing innovative strategies to address skills shortages will be critical for employers in order to help their businesses remain competitive in a crowded global marketplace.”

David Clift, HR Director at totaljobs, warned that the shortages are likely to be particularly severe at junior and mid-management levels. “[This is] partly due to the long-term impact of the 2008 financial crisis, when levels of graduate recruitment fell sharply,” he said. “Employers looking to find long-term solutions to the current skills shortage should focus on engaging with and informing graduates and university students of the opportunities available in their industry.”

Hickey added that recruiters should pay more attention to skills that can apply across industries. “Employers may need to consider broadening their hiring criteria and sourcing professionals with transferable skills from other professional backgrounds,” he said. “In many cases, in addition to helping employers fill business critical vacancies, this approach can help bring new and innovative ideas into an organisation due to their varied background.”

Over a quarter (28%) of employers said that they would target professionals from other fields who possess transferable skills and 49% would use internal training to upskill staff, in order to combat the skills gap. 57% of candidates agreed they would be interested in roles in other fields where their skills would be transferable.

Hickey concludes: “Additionally, employers should consider the potential in building relationships with universitiesand colleges, giving them the opportunity to interact with students to help position them as desirable employers and to give students the opportunity to develop the skills early on that will help them thrive in the workplace.”