I saw this story on the BBC News today. It reports the results of a survey of leading UK businesses saying:
“Three-quarters of British businesses believe a significant skills crisis will hit the UK within the next three years, according to a new report.”
Apparently 40% of businesses are experiencing skills gaps and two thirds think skills shortages could put the brakes on economic recovery. A spokesman for the CBI said:
“Moving forward, we need structural reform to open up more routes to higher skills.”
Should it not be the responsibility of businesses to train up their staff to the standard required by the business? Why not employ someone with the right attitude and train them up? These ‘skills gap’ stories come around every so often, and it seems to be a symptom of the times we live in. As work has become more insecure and the duration of employment at a particular firm falls, the incentive for businesses to train their staff falls.
The thinking may be that why should I spend time and effort training someone up for them to just more onto the next company straight away? So each firm tries to only hire people who are already trained up to the required standard. They want someone else to do their job for them. And when they can’t find someone, they blame the education system, or the lack of ambition of today’s young people.
Today’s top business people seem to want to have it both ways. They want lower taxes, but also the supply of labour to come to them fully trained. Well they shouldn’t be able to have it both ways. If the want government to take responsibility for ensuring we have a highly skilled workforce, it’s only right they pay for that privilege. Either that, or they commit to upskilling their own workforces.