65% of UK CEOs say that growth prospects are being hindered by a shortage of key skills.

A new global survey of 1,300 CEOs by PwC has found that UK business leaders are more concerned about the threats to business growth posed by skills shortages than any of their counterparts in Western Europe. They think the government should be doing more to deal with the problem: three out of four CEOs say that cultivating a skilled workforce should be the government’s highest priority for business in 2013.

The most chronic skills shortages, the report reveals, lie in companies specialising in engineering, construction, mining and energy. PwC’s HR consulting partner, Laura Hinton, said: “UK businesses are struggling with a widening mismatch between the skills of their workforce and the skills they need to achieve strong growth. There needs to be a joint approach to addressing the problem, with business and government working together to plug the skills gap. Apprenticeship programmes are a great example of where business and the government are already working together to tackle this issue.”

She was critical of the priorities of the CEOs, however: only one-third considered plugging the talent gap as their immediate investment concern, although 70% said they planned to increase investment in their workforces between now and 2016. Ms Hinton believes that investment in employee development and training should instead be “a key priority for CEOs for the year ahead, rather than a longer-term aspiration.”

An implication for Umbrella Company Employees with the sought-after skills already in the bag is that hirers could well be head-hunting them with gusto this year.

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