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Welsh employers are feeling the impact of skills shortage in poor staff wellbeing, increased workload and decreased profitability

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According to The Open University’s Business Barometer 2022 report, published in partnership with the British Chambers of Commerce, Welsh organisations are experiencing the knock-on effect of ongoing skills shortages and recruitment challenges, as more than three quarters (77%) report seeing reduced output, profitability or growth.

  • Data from The Open University and British Chambers of Commerce show almost three-quarters (70%) of organisations say the impact of skills shortages is causing increased workload on other staff, while 77% are seeing reduced output, profitability, or growth
  • More than two-thirds (69%) of SMEs are currently facing skills shortages
  • 52% of organisations have implemented some form of written plan around recruitment, training, addressing skills shortages, ESG, or D&I.

The Open University’s annual report which provides a temperature check on the UK skills landscape, also highlighted the effect the skills shortage is having on staff morale and wellbeing, as almost three-quarters (70%) of organisations say the impact increases workload on other staff. This statistic has crept up since last year when only 60% of respondents claimed their staff were experiencing additional pressure.

To address the problem, around two-fifths (41%) of Welsh businesses surveyed will increase investment in staff training over the next year. The knock-on effect of these shortages is also impacting company growth as 24% of businesses say they have had to turn down work or are not able to bid for work due to their staff shortage.

The report also revealed more than two-thirds (69%) of respondents in Wales are currently facing skills shortages, a dramatic rise on last year's report where only a quarter (32 per cent) believed that finding staff with the right skillset was the single biggest challenge facing businesses. Organisations across the UK reported they were feeling the full impact of complex socio-economic issues such as Covid-19, Brexit, the war in Ukraine and rising business costs – all feeding into the skills shortage.

More than half (52%) or Welsh organisations have implemented some form of written plan around recruitment, training, addressing skills shortages, ESG, or D&I. Yet only two-fifths (41%) say they will increase investment in staff training over the next year suggesting financial pressures are taking over.

Interestingly, less than a fifth (15%) of organisations in Wales say that on balance, the trend towards remote working has helped them to attract new staff, while 7% say that it has caused them to lose staff.

The Open University partners with the British Chambers of Commerce for the first time for its 2022 Business Barometer report. Based on a survey of 130 Welsh employers conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce, the report is an annual temperature check on the UK’s business landscape across a multitude of different UK nations, regions and sectors.

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. The report also shows that recruitment is tougher than ever and that places a focus on growing talent from within and opening up opportunities for hidden talent both inside and outside the organisation. Critically, staff seem to be under more pressure than ever, looking at last year's report, an increased amount of employers admit that the skills shortage is increasing their teams workload and wellbeing. Through The Open University’s work with employers, we’ve seen how education can make a huge difference to workforce impact and diversity. Education is a huge enabler and has a vital role to easing and solving the skills shortage. If we can harness the ambitions of our people who deliver products and services, then it’s a win-win for all. 

Viren Patel
Director of the Business Development Unit at The Open University

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chamber of Commerce added:

“These results confirm the skills shortages problems are worsening and the country can ill afford this drag on the economy as we begin to recover from the pandemic and grapple with the impact of geo-political events. 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.”

Since 2018, the OU in Wales has offered a degree apprenticeship in Applied Software Engineering. The course gives apprentices the training they need to work in software engineering, while earning a salary at a Welsh employer.

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