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UKCES explains: skills shortage vacancies

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Employer surveys

As part of our series of explainer blogs, we’re putting a spotlight on some of the specific terms and phrases from our UK Employer Skills Survey 2015. It’s a huge study, speaking to over 91,000 employers across the UK – but with that much data comes a certain amount of jargon.

Today, we look at the term behind one of the headline findings. Skills shortage vacancies increased by 130% between 2011 and 2015 – but what is a “skills shortage vacancy”? 

The UK Employer Skills Survey 2015 (ESS 2015) is a fantastic source of information on the labour market and skills. A big part of the survey is about recruitment: what roles are employers trying to fill? Where, and how many? What are the problems, and what kind of skilled people are needed?

A key measure is skills shortages.

We measure these by asking employers over the phone if they had any current vacancies at the time of the interview.

If they said yes and reported a vacancy, we asked if they were finding it difficult to fill that position – for any reason. If they were, we counted this as a as a hard-to-fill vacancy (HTFV).

These hard-to-fill roles could be that way for many reasons – if the job involves unsociable hours, for example, or is in an out-of-the-way location. That’s interesting, and we do break down those numbers in the report.

But we’re particularly interested in skills (the clue’s in our name), so we pick out the answers that mention a lack of skilled or qualified people to take the job. And these are what count as skills shortage vacancies (SSVs).

These two categories, and particularly SSVs, really matter. They show up a mismatch between the supply and demand for skills, and where they occur they make it harder for employers to introduce new products or services, or adapt with new working practices. In short, they act as potential brakes on the organisation’s growth - and economic growth overall.

The full survey results can be found on our GOV.UK pages – or catch up quickly with our key findings videos.

Thoughts about skills shortages? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter - @UKCES.

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