It’s been widely reported and confirmed that we have a skills gap, but I would like to look at some of the reasons quoted publicly and from our own observations.

This is why we think we will continue to see a widening gap and no significant closure anytime soon, unless some pretty systemic changes are made in industry and education and we address fundamental misalignment of objectives.

5.  Complete lack of Education Vs Industry alignment

We have an education system which was designed for a different world – as someone who’s daughter has just sat and passed her latest GCSE exams can vouch for – the focus on these exams is to the detriment of all other core knowledge, which would be applicable in work.  Industry and Education speak different languages and do not necessarily understand each other.  Generally, as there are some exceptions but, it’s safe to say that educators have not been in industry and industry have not been teachers therefore cannot fully understand each other anyway.  Some good intentioned work from the careers and enterprise company is starting to bring the two together but as I always say…follow-the-money – don’t listen to well intentioned speeches or talk – look at what people do and how they are incentivised, rather than what they say.

4.  Pace of change in curriculum

The world is changing at an ever increasing pace and it can feel like its impossible to track future jobs and for curriculum to keep pace.  Yet the issue is more to do with time taken to validate and plan courses being too long rather than the pace of change.  The fact that IT changes frequently would not be an issue if for example some more recent content could be created, validated and then teaching staff trained to allow for delivery to students – we believe this cycle should be annual with new modules developed faster than whole new courses being developed – test out the modules in existing degrees or college courses and you will find the burden on the system far less.

3.  Short term gain for long term pain

Industry has long taken the short term gain route to staffing to increase profits short term rather than the full-cost of recruitment to be taken into account over a longer period – meaning that entry level recruitment had not been halted and not invested in times of economic downturn, then issues with skill gaps have emerged later linked to this period of no investment.  Its no wonder its a case on boom and bust in area such as construction or engineering.

2.  Lack of migration

Here we are a few months away from a Brexit deal and we are talking of a lack of migration – but from our view in the North East looking out to the rest of the world we can see a real issue.  With a lack of new talent coming into the North East – meaning that in most sectors we are fishing in an extremely small talent pool driving up wages in the short term.  We struggle to get new talent to come to the region for a variety of reasons but this is necessary if we are to grow the local economy and attract further inward investment – we cannot 100% rely on the local population in any area of the country fully meeting the local labour market needs.  We must allow for better migration, facilitated by better transport links.

1. Lack of planning

A large proportion of companies that we speak to struggle to articulate any concrete numbers for their workforce beyond those already employed.  If the very industry who has a skills gap cannot plan ahead then what hope do the other partners have in the regions in which they operate – they will struggle to meet this obscure demand signal if the companies themselves who generate the demand cannot forecast past the end of this year which is only 3 months away.

This is exactly why we created Insights Enterprise Management to address the gap in required planning – if you would like to test drive Insights yourself get in touch via or visit 

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