Staffing association calls on UK government to address skills gap

LABOUR market data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics have elicited a welcome — and a caution — from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

APSCo’s global public policy director, Tania Bowers, welcomed the fact that the number of estimated pay-rolled employees was up 160,000 a month after the end of the furlough scheme. But she warned against overconfidence.

“(The ONS figures suggest) that the job protection scheme worked in many cases. However, … for some businesses already struggling to source the skills the growing gap in supply and demand is a concern.”

Female speaker, training class, skills gap
Training class. People photo created by master1305 –

APSCo is calling on the UK government to help create a skilled, dynamic and flexible workforce to support “the extensive job and economic growth that we’re experiencing”.

Current plans to direct funding into apprenticeships and lifelong learning for adults would help some of the skills challenges, Bowers said.

But there are some apprenticeship levies that remain unused, she pointed out, while independent professionals go without training “that will support individuals and the skills economy”.

The use of training funds “needs a rethink” to ensure it is benefitting the entire UK workforce.

“We are also urging authorities to ensure there is a viable and attractive visa route into the UK for skilled independent professionals and the self-employed,” she said.

“Developing home-grown talent will take time, and during this period it will be international temporary experts who will play a significant role in helping the country continue on its path to recovery.”