What’s the biggest challenge facing employers today? Is it survival? Growth? Technology? Recruiting skilled staff? The answer, of course, depends on who you ask.
To state the obvious, the challenges faced by a drilling firm in Aberdeen are vastly different to those faced by a banker in the City. Yet for years, businesses have been viewed either from a sectoral perspective, or a geographical one. The awkward truth is that both sector and geography matter. All challenges have an impact on the UK’s productivity levels, which are already lagging far behind our international competitors. If policy makers, employers and training providers are to make the right decisions, they need robust, comprehensive information, based on both location and sector.
Earlier this year, UKCES launched the findings from the 2015 UK Employer Skills Survey (ESS15). We highlighted a number of skills challenges at a UK level, including more than 200,000 vacancies being hard to fill due to a lack of skills in the labour market. And we discovered there is also huge untapped potential among the existing workforce – two million workers have skills and qualifications above the level needed for their current role.
This is a good start. Understanding how well the skills of the workforce are aligned with employers’ needs is a first step to addressing some of these challenges. But we realise a local view is also required. The UK isn’t a single homogenous market; it’s hundreds, if not thousands, of local markets up and down the country. Take a region like Yorkshire and Humberside: the proportion of employers that are recruiting varies by local authority from as low as 14% to as high as 27%; skills shortages in the region are up to three times as intense in some areas when compared with neighbouring authorities.
Offering a local perspective has always driven the design of the Employer Skills Survey. ESS15 provides robust national, regional and sub-regional findings right down to LEP and local authority level. Local stakeholders are among the most intensive users of our data - around three-quarters of LEPs use UKCES data in their analyses of their local labour market.
So I’m delighted that today, we are launching the local resources from ESS15. These include detailed data tables for each English LEP and local authority and a slide pack highlighting some interesting local findings. Come and have a look at these and our other resources of local users.