UK Skill Shortages

In sitting down to write this blog, we found stacks of useful resources. However, we also found that much of the information was conflicting and was somewhat unclear. So, if the recruiters find it confusing, how are candidates expected to figure out which parts are relevant for them? This is the question we have set out to answer. Hopefully, we can help you identify what your priorities are whatever stage of your career you are at!

Is there a difference between the skills shortage and the occupation shortage?

Yes and no. Bear with us here. There is always going to be a certain amount of overlap between skills and occupations. This is because you need specific skills for specific occupations. But, by the same token, skills can also fall into two categories: soft skills and hard skills.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are skills which are not necessarily technical or tangible. They include things like ‘good communication’ or ‘time management’ and are generally easily transferable between jobs.

Typical soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Organisation
  • Leadership
  • Problem Solving
  • Teamwork
  • Time Management
  • Creative thinking
  • Empathy
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Self-management
  • Situational awareness
  • Persuasion
  • Adaptability

 

The list goes on but not all jobs require the same soft skills. For example, an accountant might need to be able to effectively manage their time but might not need to think as creatively as a marketer.

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are generally gained through specific technical or academic knowledge and training. They might include degrees or mechanical operations.

Typical Hard Skills include:

  • Industry specific Qualifications
  • Microsoft Office
  • Foreign languages
  • Copywriting/editing
  • Data management
  • SEO
  • Google analytics
  • Software engineering
  • Adobe
  • UX
  • Typing Speed

 

Usually, hard skills are those that are relevant to the occupation shortlist. For example, when people talk about skills shortages in relation to the UK’s shortage occupation list, they might be referring to qualifications in cyber security as hard skills that are in short supply within the information technology profession. Although, it is worth noting that not all the occupations with shortages in hard skills require degrees. Some are determined by experience such as those in the welding trades. In the UK, for example, we have a shortage of high integrity pipe welders with 3 or more years on the job-related experience.

Where are the shortages?

Overall, there are a number of areas listed on the shortage occupation list. You can view them here.

These occupations are thought to be most easily filled tier 2 immigrants. This is because of a lack of people who have trained or are skilled in these areas.

However, as recruiters, we also see changes in demand for various skills month on month. According to the monthly APSCO report, perhaps unsurprisingly due to Covid, July saw a shortage of retail staff across the country. In contrast, London had a shortage of candidates for Dutch and German speaking roles. Although, it is worth noting that the monthly reports vary so these are not, perhaps, the best source for those who are looking to develop their careers in the long term.

That said, we are seeing more and more demand for digital skills in all roles.