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Labour Shortages – Why Upskilling Could Help You Land Your Next Job

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This summer was a whirlwind for most of us, as COVID-19 restrictions eased slightly and we began to taste real life again, so you’d be forgiven for missing probably one of the biggest pieces of news of this year.

We’re talking about the massive labour shortages that are currently affecting large parts of the UK economy.

Far from being an isolated issue, labour shortages are now starting to become much more noticeable in other areas of the economy too, as we emerge from COVID restrictions and the impact of Brexit becomes much clearer.

And they’re helping many of us to think about our own skills and how we can improve them.

So, what does this mean for you and the jobs market? We took a deeper dive into the issue – and how you can successfully navigate it when applying for roles.


Labour shortages - what do they mean for you?

To put it bluntly, a labour shortage is usually bad news for employers and good news for job seekers.

When labour is scarce, wages generally rise and job seekers are in a better bargaining position when it comes to negotiating terms for roles.

At the moment, the UK economy is experiencing a shortage of workers in a range of industries.

Recent analysis from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that from May to July 2021, the UK labour market had around 953,000 open positions that had not been filled, up by more than 168,000 from before the pandemic. This number of open job vacancies is the highest that the ONS has ever recorded in its history.

Analysts put the labour shortages down to a combination of disruption caused by three particular things: the labour and economic disruption caused by Brexit; a new, stricter immigration policy introduced by Home Secretary Priti Patel; and, to a lesser extent, the ongoing fallout of COVID-19 on supply chains. Some bodies are even predicting that this crisis could last for longer than a year.

How does a labour shortage affect you, personally, when it comes to recruitment and job-seeking, then?

Well, to put it rather crudely, if you have the right skills, applying for jobs during a labour shortage is likely to be a lot easier than it was before. This means that improving your skills during a labour shortage could help you get a job with less effort. You’re more likely to be able to negotiate a better salary and benefits package too.

And with the prospect of something even worse than the current labour shortages on the horizon, improving your skills now could really pay off in the future. The 2030 Skills Gap is on its way – and we need to prepare.


2030 Skills Gap

Ordinarily, short-term labour shortages wouldn’t get business analysts and researchers so fidgety, but this one is particularly special. Many analysts are arguing that it reflects a long-term problem with a lack of ongoing training and upskilling in the UK economy that successive governments have failed to fix – a problem that is well on its way to creating a major skills gap by 2030.

Put simply, a skills gap is where there is a mismatch between the skills that employers need and the skills that job seekers have. In their report, the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Council predicts that by 2030 the UK will be facing widespread and sustained labour shortages across the entire economy, based on a rising demand for technology and people skills – skills that aren’t of the right quality or quantity in the UK workforce at the moment.

Combined with an acute labour shortage like the one we’re currently experiencing, this skills gap could prove particularly devastating to the UK economy.

If you’re thinking about progressing your career and climbing the ladder, developing your skills now could see you in a much more competitive position in the labour market – both today, and in a few years when these issues become even more apparent.


 

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Train today for rewards tomorrow

With labour demand at the highest it's been for years, and the skills gap only set to make current labour shortages worse, now is the perfect time to start upskilling and developing your professional knowledge, leaving you in a competitive position in your career in the future.

Studying a professional qualification is a practical way to prove to employers that you have the right skills and knowledge that they’re looking for.

Developed, accredited and overseen by professional membership bodies, these qualifications are used to maintain quality in a specific sector and are something that employers look for to see if you’re a credible candidate.

Apart from just increasing your chances of being selected for your dream job, studies have shown that upskilling and focusing on your professional development can have a range of other benefits, including more satisfaction in your role, improved performance and better resilience in stressful situations.


Finding the professional training that suits you

So, where should you start if you’re looking to develop your own skills?

Investing in a professional qualification is usually a good idea.

Practically every industry will have a professional body that offers relevant qualifications, usually covering all skill and experience levels. To find out the best qualification for your needs, do some research into the professional body for your sector and have a look at the qualifications that they offer.

If you’re stuck, here are some popular professions, the bodies that regulate them and the qualifications that they offer:

Human Resources and Learning & Development

Body: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)

Qualifications Offered:

● HR: CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate in People Management, CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma in People Management, CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma in Strategic People Management

● L&D: CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate in People Management, CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma in Organisational Learning & Development, CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma in Strategic Learning and Development

Accountancy and Bookkeeping

Body: Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)

Qualifications Offered:

● Accountancy: AAT Level 2 Foundation Certificate in Accounting, AAT Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Accounting, AAT Level 4 Professional Diploma in Accounting

● Bookkeeping: AAT Level 2 Foundation Certificate in Bookkeeping, AAT Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Bookkeeping

Leadership and Management

Body: Chartered Institute of Managers (CMI), Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM)

Qualifications Offered:

● CMI: CMI Level 5 and 7 Certificate and Diploma in Management and Leadership, CMI Level 7 Certificate and Diplomas in Strategic Management and Leadership

● ILM: ILM Level 2 Award and Certificate in Leadership and Team Skills, ILM Level 3 Award and Certificate in Leadership and Management, ILM Level 5 Award and Certificate in Leadership and Management.

The exact qualification you choose to study will obviously depend on your career area and where you’re currently situated on the career ladder. Whichever qualification you choose, it will help position you competitively when it comes to the widespread labour shortages in the economy that we’re set to face in the future.


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