The UK is in the midst of a major skills crisis. Fears have grown that the lack of skilled professionals could limit the economy’s ability to bounce back following the recession. A report last year stated that 40% of businesses had already experienced skills gaps within their firms and three-quarters feared a skills shortage in the next three years.
Many businesses have pointed the finger of blame at the education system. Outgoing CBI boss John Cridland went as far as claiming young people have been failed by the current system and described it as the "achilles heel" of economic growth.
A recent Policy Exchange report recommended that the government redistribute funds from universities to boost the quality of technical courses in the further education sector. The government has already pledged to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. However FE recruiters AoC Jobs have highlighted the importance of ensuring the focus on quantity does not prevent apprentices from gaining higher-level skills.
Advances in technology has accelerated the skills shortage
Technology has become an integral part of everyday life and its role within the job market grows increasingly important. Demand for digital skills has skyrocketed with firms increasingly seeking skills in cloud development, big data and SAP. Eursap, the London-based suppliers of SAP talent across Europe, have in particular, highlighted SAP configuration and implementation as two of the most sought-after skills.
But the growth of digital skills in the UK workforce is moving much more slowly than the rate of innovation. More than 12 million people and a million small businesses do not have the necessary skills to flourish in the digital landscape.
A number of construction firms have said the skills shortage in their industry threatens to delay major building projects, after official figures showed industry in the sector fell by 4.3% earlier this year.
Construction crane providers Emerson Cranes have suggested employing ex-forces personnel as a potential solution to the skills crisis. They possess the desirable and transferable skills needed in many construction roles.
Foreign language skill shortages harm medicinal practices
Businesses for many different sectors have hired people from a range of backgrounds to fill employment gaps, many of whom do not have English as their first language. While employees possess the relevant skills needed for the roles, they are not always familiar with UK regulations and information can be easily get lost in translation.
Foreign language skills should not be made exclusive to construction or international trade roles. Business translation company London Translations have highlighted the importance of accurate translations in the medical and pharmaceutical sector. Lives are at risk and mistranslations can have devastating consequences.
In 1980, baseball player Willie Ramirez was wrongly diagnosed with a drug overdose following a mistranslation. His Spanish-speaking family used the word "intoxicado" to describe his condition, believing he had eaten something that might have caused his symptoms. This was wrongly translated into English as “intoxicated”. It was later discovered that Ramirez's problem was actually bleeding in the brain, but by then he'd suffered lasting damage and had become quadriplegic.
With an increasingly global community, more languages are going to be present in hospitals and medical institutions. Effective communication between physicians and patients is critical to providing optimal health care.
What is the solution?
It has long been suggested that children should start learning foreign languages at the age of three, similarly to our European neighbours who excel in bilingualism. But plans to enthuse pupils with foreign language learning have faltered. There have been steep declines in the numbers of pupils taking French, German and Spanish GCSEs.
Britain could lose its powerhouse status on the global business ladder if this trend continues. If the skills gap continues to increase each year, the UK government will need to make serious curriculum changes and introduce more rigorous schemes to generate interest.
This article was written by London Translations.