Mind the Brexit skills gap

A recent survey of businesses by online job hunting site, Totaljobs, has found that more than half of British employers believe the existing skills shortages they face will be made worse by Brexit. Furthermore, the government’s own Adult Skills Gap report shows that the problem of upgrading the abilities of the workforce is not the same across the board.

It suggests that 49% of adults from low socio-economic backgrounds do not receive any training after leaving full-time education and only 18% of those in manual or routine jobs received any training in the last three months. According to The Office of National Statistics, EU nationals currently make up around 7% of the UK workforce with 41% currently in a skilled job, as defined by MAC (Migration Advisory Committee), and 59% in low-skilled jobs.

There is an approximate 3.7 million people living in the UK born within the EU, but since the referendum those numbers have been falling and it is still anybody’s guess what the future of Britain’s skills gap will be post-Brexit, with seven out of ten EU workers expected to be lost. The sectors that are predicted to be hit the worse by a reduction of the EU workforce are the food and drink sector, with nearly half of the UK’s fruit and vegetable processers from EU countries. This is closely followed by high workforces in the agriculture and manufacturing industries. The UK’s financial and business services sector will also struggle with a loss of high-skilled EU workers, currently 12% of this industry is made up of non-UK nationals, with over 382,000 of those from within the EU.

However, many employers are still shying away from investing in their staff, with upskilling and employer-supported training still on the back bench. UK businesses spend just two-thirds of the EU’s average on adult training, even though to do so encourages employee loyalty and reduces the ever more expensive and time consuming need for external recruitment which will be significantly harder post-Brexit.

In a shrinking talent pool upskilling existing employees appears to be the only answer; experienced trainers know it needn’t be costly or cause significant workplace disruption to do so. Businesses should also be aware of their rights regarding the apprenticeship levy as a tool to upskill existing employees: training your workforce does not just come as a one size fits all approach.

At Milton Keynes College we work closely with local employers to understand how we can help bridge the local skills gap – providing flexible and convenient adult learning opportunities to meet local business needs. We fully encourage employers to reach out and talk to us about the skills which are most needed, so we can continue to ensure our courses meet local employment needs.

Chloe Pivett - Marketing Business Partner at MK College
Chloe Pivett - Marketing Business Partner at MK College

We’d be happy to discuss how we can help shape your talent pool post-BREXIT, or if you just want to tell us what’s lacking in your companies arsenal of skills, please get in touch with: Chloe.pivett@mkcollege.ac.uk