The UK’s recovery could be derailed by a major professional skills shortage unless the government acts to reform immigration rules, a new study by Hays plc has concluded.

The new study, entitled The Great Talent Mismatch, was jointly prepared by Hays and Oxford Economics, and is based upon analyses of 30 major global economies. Disturbingly, it reveals that only three economies come below the UK in the skills deficit league table – Portugal, Spain and Ireland – all of which have been badly mauled by the eurozone crisis.

Alistair Cox, chief executive of Hays, said: “This year’s Hays Global Skills Index makes it very clear that the pressure on the UK labour market is increasing. Too many skilled jobs are now going unfilled because the right skills are in increasingly short supply. This makes a real dent on a company’s ability to grow and constrains the UK’s economic prospects at a time when we need to be encouraging a sustained recovery.”

It will not escape the attention of jobbing Umbrella Company Employees that many of the professional skills in shortest supply in the UK are core disciplines of the country’s professional contracting community: IT, construction, oil and gas, and energy.

The report urges the government to revise its stringent immigration policy to permit UK companies to rapidly recruit skilled overseas workers. London mayor Boris Johnson has already called for a ‘London visa’ to enable fast-track recruitment of overseas talent for the capital’s technology and fashion sectors.

On a longer-term basis, the report calls for government to align educational policy much more closely to the country’s business needs and facilitate the transition from school to work more effectively.

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