A lack of skilled workers has become a significant problem for organisations within the HR industry with almost three-quarters facing this issue. 

A new report by Search Consultancy, a multi-discipline recruitment company, has found that skills shortages are a wide-spread problem for organisations within HR, with 73 per cent facing this scenario.

Looking across the board, the sectors which are most affected by a lack of skilled workers include engineering and manufacturing with over four in five (85 per cent) suffering from a skills gap. The same was seen for financial services (84 per cent), healthcare (84 per cent) and construction (83 per cent).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, within the sales sector, only half of organisations (52 per cent) faced a skills gap. The marketing and legal sector were also less impacted.

When analysing why this problem was occurring, over a third of organisations (37 per cent) cited a lack of qualified candidates as the main contributing factor.

A further three in 10 (29 per cent) believed that talent retention was an issue for their business, leaving gaps in their organisation. Finally, Brexit and the impact of this was attributed as a reason for the lack of skilled workers by over a quarter of organisations (27 per cent), leaving the talent pool much smaller.

As a result of this, almost four in 10 managers (39 per cent) say staff have had to work longer hours. This ultimately contributes to the problem of a high staff-turnover, which then leads to an increase in recruitment costs.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) have also experienced increased training costs and one in five businesses are having to deal with a
disengaged workforce.

This has also had an external impact with 28 per cent of managers admitting that their teams’ quality of work has been poor and over a quarter (26 per cent) were unable to fulfil work commitments to clients and customers.

Six in 10 managers (60 per cent) felt that a more diverse workforce would help resolve the skills shortage in their industry.  60 per cent of businesses believe they suffer from a lack of racial diversity within the business and more than half (54 per cent) identified they do not have a fair gender representation. Just below half (49 per cent) believed they have a fair spread of ages across the business.

Other approaches that have been taken include focussing on staff retention through offering more than competitors (28 per cent), implementing salary increases (21 per cent) and improving benefits within their organisation (17 per cent). In addition, one in five (18 per cent) have also had to look at recruiting apprentices to fill entry level roles.

Ed O’Connell, managing director of HR at Search Consultancy, said:

The implications of Brexit and legislative and regulatory change offset by the global pandemic has seen an increasing demand for niche skills in key industries.

Businesses, now more than ever, have an increasing range of challenges which combined with a short supply of key talent means there is strong competition for the market’s key skills. In order for the skills gap to be plugged in the industry, we will need to encourage fresh talent to consider a career alongside continued training and investment in existing teams.


This research was obtained from Search Consultancy’s report ‘Mind the Gap: The Search Consultancy Skills Shortage Report’ which was  published in February 2021. The data presented comes from market research with over 1,000 senior managers across 20 sectors.