10th May 2011
A huge 43% of employers are now finding it difficult to recruit workers with science, technology, engineering and maths skills and so are increasingly paying premium rates for such expertise, according to the CBI.
But the employer lobby group's 'Education and Skills' survey of 566 organisations undertaken with the national UK qualifications awarding body EDI also revealed that the situation was only expected to get worse.
An additional 10% of respondents (bringing the total to 53%) believed that they too would experience hiring issues over the year ahead. As a result, just under a third said they were now offering STEM-related work experience in a bid to tackle the issue.
But small companies (14%) professed themselves far less likely to offer apprenticeships than large ones with more than 5,000 staff (83%). The biggest barriers to going down this route were lack of financial incentives for recruiting and training personnel as well as difficulties in accessing government funding and support for such learning and development activities (56% respectively).
Nigel Snook, EDI's chief executive, said: "Apprenticeships are a valuable way of improving skill levels and it’s encouraging that so many large companies are already involved in these schemes, but more small firms need support to take on apprentices."
As a result, despite coalition government cuts of 25% in training-related funding, nearly two thirds of employers believed that public money should be focused on apprenticeships, while just over half felt that it should be pumped into courses to boost basic literacy and numeracy skills.
Some 42% said they were unhappy with literacy levels among school and college leavers today, while 35% were concerned about their numeracy skills. As a result, just over two out of five said that they had had to invest in remedial training for workers of this age group.
A further seven out of 10 were also disappointed with school and college leavers' business and customer awareness, while 55% were unimpressed with their self-management skills. As a result, some 70% wanted to see these issues being given top priority in schools and colleges.