New research from The Prince's Trust and HSBC indicates that business leaders are facing skills gaps, threatening to hamper economic growth.

UK employers say they are struggling to recruit, yet hundreds of thousands of unemployed young people are desperate for work. We need to work together to up-skill the workforce of the future.

  • 73 per cent of British businesses believe a skills crisis will hit the UK within the next three years.
  • 32 per cent of organisations report skills shortages at entry level and more than half are currently facing difficulties filling vacancies (53 per cent).
  • 72 per cent believe that the recruitment of young people into the workforce is vital to avert a skills crisis.

Three quarters of British businesses believe a significant skills crisis will hit the UK within the next three years (73 per cent), while two fifths predict this will happen within the next 12 months (43 per cent). According to The Prince’s Trust and HSBC report, based on interviews with 616 UK business leaders, 72 per cent believe that the recruitment of young people into the workforce is vital to avert a skills crisis.

With a third of organisations reporting skills shortages at entry level (32 per cent) and almost half unable to fill vacancies over the past year (53 per cent), The Prince’s Trust is calling on employers to invest in vocational training for unemployed young people to avoid future skills shortages.

Martina Milburn CBE, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust said: “It is deeply concerning that employers are struggling to fill vacancies when we have hundreds of thousands of unemployed young people desperate for work.

The current economic recovery is encouraging, but in order to sustain this growth, UK plc needs to invest in the next generation to avoid a skills vacuum in the future, which threatens to hamper economic growth."

We are urging businesses to take action now to up-skill the workforce of the future to prevent the bubbling skills crisis from boiling over.

The economic recovery has seen 71 per cent of businesses reporting increased demand for their services over the past 12 months, with 63 per cent saying that they are growing faster than this time last year. However, two thirds of those surveyed believe faster growth will cause skills gaps within their organisations (64 per cent) and 45 per cent cite their ageing workforce as a concern.

Employers are increasingly looking to the next generation to help fill the skills shortages they are facing. However, the research also shows that young people – particularly those who are currently unemployed – still face stigma and negative stereotyping from business leaders.

The Prince’s Trust aims to help 58,000 unemployed young people this year, providing vocational training in sectors with identified skills shortages such as construction, retail and logistics.

Seventy-one per cent of UK businesses admit that jobless young people face stigma from employers, while more than two thirds warn of a culture where unemployed young people and those without a degree are unfairly overlooked in the jobs market (69 and 67 per cent respectively).

In response to the findings, The Prince's Trust is calling on more employers to help increase the number of young people it can support this year.

A number of employers, including HSBC, Marks & Spencer, Balfour Beatty, Accenture, DHL and Asda a have already stepped forward to support The Prince's Trust in its mission to upskill the workforce of the future. HSBC is one of a group of leading UK employers – Movement to Work - which aims to support thousands of unemployed young people, giving them the skills and confidence to find a job.

The Prince’s Trust has supported more than 750,000 young people since being set up by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1976. Three in four young people supported by The Trust move into work, education or training.

Skills Crunch 2014 (pdf, 2mb)