Three in five (63%) South East firms are reporting difficulty recruiting skilled staff, and a third have seen increased staff turnover since June 2016, according to a new employment and skills study from Lloyds Banking Group and business membership organisation, London First. The study sought to analyse the impact of Brexit on business recruitment and access to skills across the UK.
The skills shortage is proving to be an issue for businesses in the region, with 46% saying it had impacted their activity. More than half (55%) said that skills shortages meant increased workload and stress for existing staff, and 41% report that it’s harder for them to take advantage of opportunities to grow revenue or expand the business.
South East region has the third highest amount of firms experiencing recruitment challenges in the UK.
The biggest skills gap reported by respondents was technical and practical skills (36%), reflective of the largest portion of respondents being in the recruitment, HR and training sector.
Many thought these gaps would persist over the next 18 months, reflecting the UK’s long-term challenge in tackling its skills shortages.
Addressing the challenges
To help generate a pipeline of future talent, 40% of South East firms said they would be focusing on improving skill-set in the next 18 months as part of their recruitment efforts.
Two-thirds of companies in the South East are already engaged with local schools, colleges and universities and the majority of firms surveyed want to work with more education providers. Despite this, almost a quarter said that they don’t have enough time or staff resource to engage with more schools.
Apprenticeships are proving to be a popular solution to the skills shortage, with nearly two in five South Eastern companies surveyed employing apprentices and, of these, almost four in five are planning to either hire more or maintain current levels over the next couple of years.
Tara Foley, Lloyds Banking Group ambassador for the South East, said: “Access to the right skills, be it literacy, digital or practical skills is absolutely crucial for businesses. Both private and public-sector organisations have a role to play in nurturing the next generation of talent and working together we can develop the skills the region needs.
“We’re committed to nurturing young talent as part of our Helping Britain Prosper plan and, in the South East we employ apprentices across our business and work in partnership with local schools, colleges and universities.”
As part of its Helping Britain Prosper plan and as a bank to more than a million UK businesses, Lloyds Banking Group provides financial support and internships to help young people get through university and into the world of work; as well as taking on 1,000 apprentices every year across the country. Lloyds is also helping to train apprentices in other key sectors of the economy.