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Skills shortage goes global

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The global economic upturn means skills shortages are being felt across the world, with more than two-thirds of businesses citing training as a way of retaining employees, according to a new report.

Grant Thornton’s 2005 International Business Owners Survey (IBOS) found that 28% of the 6,000 business owners surveyed said that the availability of a skilled workforce is a major constraint on their business. Employers in New Zealand found this shortage most acute (50%), followed by Russia (45%) and Australia (44%).

The skills shortage is linked to an increase in employment. India tops the list for this increase with the Netherlands, Mexico and Sweden being the only countries to see a decrease in employment.

In turn, demand for staff has meant that half of all business owners say they have become more focused on attracting and retaining staff in the last year.

IBOS 2005 asked business owners about factors they thought were important in attracting and retaining staff. A good corporate reputation tops the list with 84% believing it was a very important factor, followed by an understanding of core values, mission and goals (77%) and training (69%).

Andrew Godfrey, head of international and European services at Grant Thornton said that the skills shortages were consistent with an economic up-turn.

“The lack of availability of a skilled workforce reflects strengthening demand and a tightening labour market in many countries, consistent with the upward phase of the economic cycle,” he said.

“It is not surprising in this climate that we are also seeing a renewed vigour in attracting and retaining staff. In India and South Africa where there is a healthy economic environment, this need is particularly acute.

However, the converse applies in Singapore and some European countries like Italy and France where workforce skills are not seen as such a big issue.”

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Annie Hayes

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