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Employer skills survey 2017: Research repot

The UK Employer Skills Survey (ESS) is one of the largest business surveys in the world, with the data in this report based on survey responses from over 87,000 employers. This research provides a comprehensive source of intelligence on the skills challenges that UK employers face both within their existing workforces and when recruiting, the levels and nature of investment in training and development, and the relationship between skills challenges, training activity and business strategy. The 2017 survey is the fourth in a series conducted biennially since 2011 (with nation-specific skills surveys pre-dating this). The ESS series therefore provides rich labour market intelligence from the period when the UK economy was emerging from the recession of the late 2000s, to more recent years when the UK has experienced relatively sustained economic growth and high levels of job creation. The latest survey was carried out between May and October 2017. Employers with at least two people on the payroll were in scope, and interviews were conducted at an establishment level with the most senior person at the site with responsibility for human resources and workplace skills., Key finding include: Recruitment activity has continued to grow since 2015; There has been an 8 per cent increase in the number of skill-shortage vacancies compared with 2015; By occupation, employers were most likely to have experienced skills-related difficulties when recruiting for Skilled Trades positions (such as chefs, electricians, and vehicle technicians); The majority of hard-to-fill vacancies (67 per cent) are caused, at least in part, by a lack of skills, qualifications and experience among applicants; Overall there were around 110,000 vacancies that employers were finding hard-to-fill exclusively for reasons unrelated to applicants’ skill levels (11 per cent of all vacancies); By sector the proportion of vacancies proving hard to fill exclusively for non-skills-related reasons was highest in Health and Social Work (19 per cent, up from 13 per cent in 2015); Among employers who had vacancies that were proving hard to fill, one in three (34 per cent) had attempted to recruit EU nationals to try to help overcome recruitment difficulties; Alongside skill shortages that may be experienced when recruiting, employers may also experience skills gaps in their existing workforce; At an occupational level, skills gaps continued to be more prevalent in what might be described as ‘labour intensive’ roles (i.e. Elementary occupations and Machine Operatives) and ‘service intensive’ occupations (i.e. Caring, Leisure and Other Services staff and Sales and Customer Service staff); Transient factors, such as staff being new to the role or training only being partially complete, were a contributing cause of most skills gaps (76 per cent); As was the case in 2015, the most common skill lacking among staff was time-management and prioritisation of tasks, contributing to nearly three-fifths of all skills gaps (59 per cent); In line with the two previous ESS surveys in 2013 and 2015, two-thirds of employers in the UK (66 per cent) had provided training for their staff over the past 12 months, with either off-the-job training or on-the-job training provided by around half of all employers in each case (48 per cent and 53 per cent respectively).