Firms believe skills crisis could hit science, tech and engineering

The Prince’s Trust and HSBC report calls for employers to support young people into employment

Eight in 10 businesses in science, technology and engineering believe the skills crisis will affect their organisation in the next three years, according to a report from The Prince’s Trust and HSBC.

The Skills Crunch report also found that 52% feel this will happen in the next 12 months. More than half (55%) said they are already feeling the effects of the skills gap and 48% said they have been unable to fill vacancies as a result of the skills crisis.

Of the senior directors interviewed, 70% warned the skills shortage will bring the UK’s economic recovery to a halt and 38% said this would cause their business to fold.

Seven in 10 (69%) said it is imperative to recruit young people into the workforce to avert the skills crisis.

Martina Milburn, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, said: “It is deeply concerning that employers are struggling to fill vacancies when we have hundreds of thousands of unemployed young people desperate for work. The current economic recovery is encouraging, but to sustain this growth, UK plc needs to invest in the next generation to avoid a skills vacuum in the future.

"We are already working with a number of leading organisations in the science, technology and engineering sector – including Accenture and PayPal – to upskill the workforce of the future and get unemployed young people into jobs. Today, we are urging others in the sector to take action to prevent the bubbling skills crisis from boiling over.”

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In response to the report, the Prince’s Trust is calling on employers to increase the number of young people it can support this year. Employers such as HSBC, Accenture and Paypal have pledged support so far, through the Movement to Work initiative, designed to support unemployed young people by providing them with skills and confidence to find a job. 

The report found that 73% of science, technology and engineering businesses have reported an increased demand for their services over the past 12 months. In addition, 66% said they are growing faster than this time last year.

However, 61% attribute the faster growth as the cause of current skills gaps. Almost half (48%) said their aging workforce is a concern.

Antonio Simoes, CEO of HSBC UK, said: “It is essential that we invest in young people now and equip them with the skills that both they and British businesses need to thrive. As a major UK employer, we are committed to supporting the economic recovery and tackling youth unemployment.

“We are proud that our partnership with The Prince’s Trust is helping the next generation move into the workplace with the skills that they need to make a success of themselves and the UK economy.”

Rob Wall, head of education and employment, CBI, says: “The lack of skills in key sectors risks acting as a brake on our economic recovery. Organisations like The Prince’s Trust provide a critical role in helping plug the skills gap, equipping young people with the knowledge and skills they need to get on in work and life.

“Moving forward, we need structural reform to open up more routes to higher skills.”

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