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New report: Business Barometer reveals impact of UK skills shortage

The Open University (OU) has partnered with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) to publish a new report looking into the size, nature and impact of the UK skills shortage.

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At the moment one of the biggest challenges is staff retention. There are local businesses who are able to offer a more attractive package than ourselves.

Medium-sized manufacturer in Wirral

The annual OU report, in collaboration for the first time with BCC, is based on a survey of more than 1,300 organisations of all sizes across the four nations from the public, private and third sectors. The survey found that:

  • Almost three-quarters (72%) of organisations say the impact of skills shortages is causing increased workload on other staff, while 78% are seeing reduced output, profitability, or growth
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of SMEs are currently facing skills shortages, rising to 86% in large organisations
  • 28% of businesses say they have had to turn down work or are not able to bid for work due to their staff shortage
  • To address the problem, more than half (52%) of large organisations will increase investment in staff training over the next year, compared to 47% of SMEs
  • SMEs struggle to implement plans to address the skills shortage while 9 in 10 of large organisations have implemented some form of written plan

[Staff shortages are causing] a strain on service levels and supply chain.

Large manufacturer in Northern Ireland

The report provides an analysis of skills shortages, the associated impacts, recruitment challenges and the effect of flexible working on skills availability – whilst also looking at how employers are responding through business planning and employee training.


Our Business Barometer report highlights the need for employers to take a long-term strategic approach to addressing the skills gaps and that it's more important than ever to take a proactive view on employees’ skills.

Viren Patel
Business Development Unit Director, The Open University

Planning for skills has never been more important and it’s time for employers, training providers and policy makers to work together to ensure the skills system delivers for individuals, businesses and the economy.

Jane Gratton
Head of People Policy, the British Chambers of Commerce

Download report - Business Barometer 2022

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