How to ‘bridge’ the gap between employer and employee mismatch?

The Hiring Hub recently published data highlighting that the employment rate is slowly increasing each year. In 2012, 29.48 million people were employed in the UK, in 2013 this increased to 29.95 million. So why are 2.5 million in the UK still unemployed and why does this amount only decrease at a sluggish pace?

One key force constantly affecting the unemployment rate is structural unemployment. This occurs when there is a mismatch between workers skills and the skills employers are seeking. Structural unemployment is continuous and unavoidable as the economy grows, adapts and industries become more efficient.

Structurally unemployed people usually have specialist skills that are not needed or are unable to be utilised in the current market. It is difficult for experienced workers to learn a new skill set or move to an area where their skills are still in demand. This makes finding a new job much harder for them and consequently increases the long-term unemployment rate.

Growing technology, new competitors and the introduction of more efficient processes are all key causes. For example, many manufacturing jobs have now migrated from the UK to countries that can carry out the same tasks but at a much lower cost. Likewise, numerous agricultural workers are currently unemployed due to the introduction of new machinery.

So what can be done to solve the skills gap and decrease the unemployment rate?

As a nation:

  • A national scheme needs to be introduced that provides opportunities for continual worker education and retraining to ensure the unemployed have the right skills to take up the available job opportunities.
  • Communication between schools and businesses is essential to discover what businesses want and how schools can provide students with the skills needed to fulfil their needs.
  • Reducing unemployment benefits could increase the incentive for the unemployed to accept available jobs. Especially if the benefit amount is lower than the national minimum wage.

As an individual:

  • It is essential that you continually develop your skills, education and training in fields that will be in demand in the future. Statistics have forecast the sectors that are in demand now will all still be flourishing over the next 5 – 15 years, for example, health care, nursing, engineering, creative and IT sectors.
  • If you are looking to pursue further education make sure you do your research and pick a course that will provide you with skills that will be relevant in the future.
  • Employers want well-rounded employees so do not spend your whole day job hunting, make sure you take part in a new hobby, volunteer or get a part-time job. This will ensure you stand out from the crowd.

So what does the future hold?

The growing skills gap has started to be addressed with new employer-led studio schools set to open across the UK in 2014, they provide real work based learning and training with leading employers from a variety of industries. Their aim is to break the traditional pathway that the current education system provides and supply students with the essential skills required for the future economy.

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