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Skills shortages bite as jobs pick up

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The skills gap is widening as the job market recovers, according to the latest survey from the Recruitment Confidence Index(RCI).

The RCI tracks recruitment intentions among UK businesses and is measured as an index where values over 100 imply an increase in recruitment activity. The spring index has risen to 135 from 129 in the last quarter and nearly half of employers – 48% – expect recruitment activity to go up over the next six months.

However, increases in recruitment activity are set to put pressure on skills with the survey showing an especially tough climate for the sales and IT sectors. One in two employers expects trouble filling sales vacancies, up from 40% three months ago, while 45% of organisations predict they will find it harder to attract good IT people, up from 34% three months ago.

The RCI quarterly trends survey is published by Cranfield School of Management and The Daily Telegraph.

Shaun Tyson, Professor of Human Resources at Cranfield School of Management, said employers should take some of the blame for the problems they will face hiring talent this summer.

He said: “We will always have problems with high level skills in the UK because many organisations don’t invest enough in training and developing their people. The trend over the past years has been to limit training to the very specific skills that the organisation needs now rather than training people for the future.”

Commenting on the spring 2005 figures Steve Playford, Group Head of Recruitment Advertising at The Daily Telegraph said: “It’s evident from our recruitment advertising pages that sales people are in demand across industries. Firms are looking for sales managers who can drive their sales teams forward to take advantage of the opportunities that are starting to open up again.

“But changing jobs is perhaps a riskier business for sales managers than for other functions. The challenge for employers, therefore, is to entice the really great sales men and women to take that risk and move out of the comfort zone of their current jobs.”

Other findings in the survey show:

* A significant drop in the number of firms expecting problems recruiting board directors – down from 49% three months ago to 30% now
* No change in business optimism, with 59% of organisations remaining neutral about the future
* All regions expect employment levels to increase this quarter. More than half of organisations (51%) in the North and South West are expecting the largest increases in all staff and 36% of organisations in the Midlands and 33% of companies in the South East are expecting the largest increases in managerial/professional staff.

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Annie Hayes

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