New research has revealed hat most employers are happy with the calibre of their employees, with some 93% of the UK workforce thought to be proficient at their jobs.  However, experts warned against complacency, saying that employers would need to expect more from, and invest more in, their staff in order to remain globally competitive as the fragile economy emerges from recession. 

The National Employer Skills Survey for England, published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, questioned 79,152 employers at the height of last year’s recession.  It found that:

  • 12% of establishments had job vacancies – down from 18% in 2007;
  • Three percent of employers had vacancies which they could not fill because they couldn’t find candidates with suitable skills, qualifications or experience – down from five per cent in 2007;
  • The percentage of employers providing training has stayed stable at roughly two-thirds, although they are training fewer people;
  • 56% of the workforce had received some training in the previous 12 months, down from 63% in 2007. However, employers are spending slightly more on training per person than they previously did, with an average investment of £3,050 per person in 2009, compared with £2,775 in 2007

Mark Spilsbury, Chief Economist at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills said:

“In broad terms, employers are finding what they need from the labour market.  Not surprisingly, during the height of last year’s recession, fewer employers were recruiting, but when they did, they found it easier to get the people they needed.

“But despite this, our research shows that many employers want to boost the proficiency of their staff even further.  Most  – around 70% -  intend to upskill their workforce over the coming year.  It’s a sensible business strategy: employers need to produce goods and services of ever-higher quality in order to compete with cheap imports from China, India and the tiger economies.

“If the UK economy is to prosper, employers need create higher-level, higher skilled jobs, as well as demanding more from, and investing more in, their staff.”