21 November 2014

The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) is calling on businesses of all sizes and in all sectors to invest in workforce training as a key driver for economic success and improved productivity performance.

According to the BCC’s Training and Skills Workforce Survey, 92% of firms have identified a skills shortage among their workforce in at least one key competency. Leadership and management, planning and organisation, languages, computer literacy, and creativity are identified as the most common skills shortages.

To address these gaps, 80% of respondents were planning to invest in training their workforce over the coming year, with 40% of firms intending to spend more than £500 per employee on external training.

Commenting on the findings, BCC President Nora Senior said: "Long-standing complaints around the cost of training, a lack of suitable courses, and staff availability — since people are needed at the front line — remain important issues."

To ensure that even more businesses can invest in training, which in turn will drive higher wages, she continued, dialogue needs to be improved between firms and the organisations that offer training — so that companies find training that is relevant, cost-effective and a good fit with staff working hours.

Responding to the BCC’s call for more training, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) described skills shortages as "potholes in the road to growth", with UKCES Deputy Director Lesley Giles warning that no jobs or sectors are completely immune to them and noting that some of the most severe skills shortages are in highly-skilled sectors.

From Eric Davies, business writer for Croner