2021 Future Skills Insight UK for Government

2021 Future Skills Insight UK for Government

11th February 2021 Off By Vanessa Tierney

Current Skill Shortages in the UK

The COVID-19 pandemic left a significant impact on the workforce. Vacancies within numerous occupations and skill shortages expanded across the UK regions quickly. The lack of skills, qualifications, and experience makes it difficult to fill such positions, leaving gaps in the workforce.

Based on data collected by Prospects, the skill vacancies can be organized into geographic regions within the UK: 

London- shortages include IT, recruitment, consultancy, law, sales and marketing 

North East- nurses, medical practitioners, human resources and industrial relations officers and  programmers and software development professionals are in demand 

North West- nurses, sales,  recruitment professionals, housing professionals, youth workers and accountants all have vacancies 

● South East- the south eastern region of the UK has the most shortages in nursing, IT support, insurance and housing 

● South West- workers in short supply include Solicitors, legal  professionals, medical practitioners, programmers, and software development professionals 

Soft Skills are in High Demand from Employers

Soft skills are transferable attributes in a candidate that show the interpersonal and social skills someone has outside the technical knowledge of job specifics. Soft skills are just as, if not, more important than hard skills in the workplace. Target Corporation released a top 10 list of skills wanted in a job candidate: 

1. Commercial awareness 

2. Communication 

3. Teamwork 

4. Negotiation and persuasion 

5. Problem solving 

6. Leadership 

7. Organisation 

8. Perseverance and motivation 

9. Ability to work under pressure 10. Confidence

Based on a 2020 skills study completed by Zety, 61% of employers responded that soft skills are more important than hard skills. It is essential as a potential job candidate to present these skills, though soft skills were often found missing from candidates resumes, according to Zety.

Highly Sought After Hard Skills in the Workforce 

Hard skills are job specific and learned over time through acquired knowledge in the field. Examples include analytical skills, IT, and computer programming. According to CIO, the pandemic especially has sparked an emphasis put on hard skills for future candidates, namely on IT skills. The UK is looking for skills related to software development, project management, cloud migration, as well as network architects. 

It is important to note that jobs which require coding skills also correlate to some of the UK’s highest paying jobs, according to SHL. The most sought after coding language, SQL, is also the highest paying job on the same list- topping the chart at an average salary of £70,797. 

Proficiency in computer programming languages is a growing skill in high demand for many employers. The most in demand language skills in the UK consist of: 


Re-skilling Workers to Fill Vacancies and Skill Shortages

Building and reskilling employees are becoming necessary for shortages to be filled and for the labor market to remain competitive. However, these shortages are not new. A finding from a research report by the National Skills Task Force, Department for Education and Employment in 2000 states, 

“The main areas of deficiency which were identified embraced a wide range of technical and practical skills and shortcomings in generic skill areas such as computer literacy, communication skills, problem-solving skills, and customer handling skills.” 

These deficiencies have not changed within the last 20 years. In fact, the UK is on track to expect significant shortages in workplace skills by 2030, according to research completed by McKinsey & Company. 21 million workers could be set to lack the basic technical skills required by employers in 2030. This lack of access to required skills serves as a major threat to labor market competitiveness in the future. The figures below portray the number of under-skilled workers in 12 workplace skills in 2030: