The UK's skills shortage and COVID-19

By Anush Pervez

It’s fair to say that the skills shortage has been apparent for some time now which can be put down to an increasing ageing workforce. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened the strain and affected the job market to an even greater extent.  


The graduate employment market has taken a hit, especially for those who have graduated within the arts and performance sectors. However, things are looking to be seemingly worse for non-graduates. There are plenty of key graduate employment sectors that have been much less affected than other areas of the economy. These sectors include Health and Social Care, Business Services and IT to name a few.


We still have a long way to go before we can completely disregard the negative impact that the pandemic has had on our economy and businesses alike, however it’s important for us to start thinking about our future skills needs.

Manufacturing skills shortage


The UK currently stands as the ninth largest manufacturing nation in the world, with its manufacturers currently employing 2.7 million people, yet the sector is currently facing the largest shortage of skilled workers in over 30 years.


In late 2018, 81% of manufacturers recognised that they struggled to find workers with the correct experience and skills to fill vacant roles. With Brexit being at the forefront of manufacturers minds as a key cause for this, 2020 proved that it has in fact been worsened by political and economic uncertainty.


With this in mind, MP’s are calling for manufacturing skills to be incorporated into the national curriculum. This is largely due to the fact that around 180,000 skilled individuals are required each year for the next three years to bridge the sectors skills gap.


MP’s have recently raised concerns that despite the manufacturing sector playing a key role in driving Britain’s economy forward, the national curriculum does little to equip young people with the necessary skills to pursue a career in manufacturing as well as showcasing it as a viable career path, which is imperative for the growth of Britain’s manufacturing industry.


As such, including it in the national curriculum will prepare young people for a career in manufacturing and will aid the closure of the sectors growing skills gap.


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