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  4. Business Barometer 2020 launches: Key skills gaps remain as businesses plan for recovery

Business Barometer 2020 launches: Key skills gaps remain as businesses plan for recovery

Business Barometer cover

Since 2017, The Open University Business Barometer has provided detailed insights into the UK skills landscape, looking at the impacts across regions, nations and sectors. This year’s report, which is released in a completely new business context, is based on a survey of 1,000 business leaders representing organisations of all sizes.

The report found that even though the pool of job candidates has grown significantly in size, employers are still struggling to find the right people, with management and leadership, and digital skills most difficult to find.

Key findings from the report

  • Organisations have spent £6.6 billion to plug short term gaps this year, up from £4.4 billion in 2019
  • 56 per cent of UK organisations continue to experience skills shortages
  • Three in five (61%) organisations say that they are not as agile as they need to be because of shortfalls in their skills

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The Open University is encouraging organisations to think ahead and grow their own talent to give their future workforce the skills needed for success. Nearly half (48%) of employers acknowledged that apprenticeships and work-based learning initiatives will be vital to their organisation’s recovery over the next year.

The massive increase in available workers in the labour market is not increasing the supply of the skills that businesses most need to help them respond to and recover from the crisis. Instead, the skills that are in short supply have become more valuable as organisations chase a pool of talent that was already very low before the crisis began. Organisations that instead adopt a "grow your own" approach to the roles they need, and reskill colleagues into relevant roles, will find themselves able to adapt to further challenges and uncertainties more quickly than those buying them in, whilst cutting costs.

Viren Patel, Director - Business Development Unit, The Open University

If organisations want to seize new opportunities and to thrive in the future, they will need to invest in the skills of their people now. This will be a tough challenge at a time when budgets are being slashed and spending frozen. But it is a challenge that many senior business leaders recognise and are responding to, as this report shows.

Anthony Impey, Business leader and entrepreneur

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