CBI say UK “Skills Emergency” holding back economic growth

A new report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Pearson UK has found that over half of firms fear growth in key sectors is being impeded by a “skills emergency”, revealing that a growing number of employers are struggling to recruit staff with the required numeracy and STEM skills.

A survey of 310 companies, which together employ over a million people, found that 68% expect their need for highly skilled employees to grow in the next few years, but are not confident that they will be able to recruit employees with the necessary maths and science skills. Demand is particularly strong in sectors critical to economic growth, such as engineering, science, hi-tech and construction, where two-thirds of employers are already reporting skills shortages. 

CBI deputy director general Katja Hall called for the Government to urgently tackle the issue, saying “Firms are facing a skills emergency now, threatening to starve economic growth. Worryingly, it’s those high-growth, high-value sectors with the most potential which are the ones under most pressure… We betray our young people if we fail to equip them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to progress in work and life.” 

These concerns are shared by National Numeracy and adds to increasing evidence that an overhaul of functional skills is essential to UK growth, with research from Pro Bono Economics last year finding poor numeracy is costing the UK economy an estimated £20 billion each year. 

Read the CBI’s full findings