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Nine-in-ten of large employers suffering skills shortage

Mark Jenkins, CFO - MHR International

Ninety percent of some of the UK’s largest organisations are struggling with a skills shortage and are unable to find talent with the appropriate skills to remain competitive, new research* reveals. While the larger organisations are struggling more severely, the average UK business is suffering the same fate – four in five (79%) of businesses surveyed say that it is their biggest challenge.

Over 500 senior managers in large organisations across the UK were surveyed to find out their views on business resilience and the future of their organisations. The research revealed that as well as the size of the business having an impact on access to skills, the age of the business did too – 86% of businesses that have been operating for over 20 years said it was their biggest challenge, compared to just over two thirds (68%) of businesses who are less than five years old.

As well as getting the right skills on board to remain competitive, businesses in the UK are also unsurprisingly still struggling with having sufficient people resources overall. Over three quarters (77%) of managers surveyed said that having enough talent was a challenge – this rose to 88% for businesses operating for over 20 years. Again, the youngest businesses surveyed were experiencing this phenomenon less – while still a majority, less than two thirds (63%) of managers from these businesses said having sufficient talent resource was a problem. Given the UK’s entrepreneurial economy, which saw over 200,000 new businesses incorporated in the first quarter of 2022 alone, this might point to employees rethinking their careers and joining smaller workforces at start-ups or younger organisations.

Mark Jenkins, CFO at MHR said: “It’s no real surprise that in today’s challenging landscape, businesses are struggling to access to the skills they need to keep an edge on the competition. But investing in the right skills, tools and talent is a core part of a business’ ability to withstand further market disruptions, so it’s a hurdle that must be overcome.”

In response to this skills gap, half (50%) of UK businesses have focused on employee engagement in the last five years to increase their resilience to market shocks. And while only 4% of the managers surveyed said it would be a challenge to financially cover meaningful operational changes within their organisation, 1 in 4 (25%) are missing key resources such as capital, people and assets to stay ahead of the competition. A slightly higher number (28%) stated that a lack of skills was holding them back from making investments in the tools they need to increase business resilience in the first place.

Jenkins added: “84% of the respondents we surveyed said that resilience was a much higher priority now than it was five years ago. To build true business resilience, organisations must not just focus on employee engagement and training, but also arm themselves with as much data as possible around recruitment, retention and skills required, to establish where the gaps are, and make any operational changes needed to fill them.”

*MHR commissioned a survey of 504 senior managers across the HR, Finance, Business Planning and Operational functions within businesses with 500-5000 employees, and with a turnover of £50m-£2bn. Responses were collected in April 2022.

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