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Almost half of Welsh businesses report skills shortage

19 Jun 2024 3 minute read
A worker in the new BT offices in Cardiff

New data has found that almost half of Welsh employers (47%) are still reporting worrying skills shortages.

This year’s annual Business Barometer report which surveyed 125 Welsh businesses and monitors the current UK skills landscape, highlights that although the landscape in Wales has improved in the last 12 months, skills shortages remain a prevalent issue across all sectors.

Despite this, less than one in 20 (6%) Welsh organisations have implemented a written skills plan for their workforce this year, hindering the ability to strategically address these issues and prepare for future demands.


In particular, organisations have reported a lack of confidence in applying either new AI (56%) or green technologies (48%), skills that employers agree are crucial to growth and sustainability for Welsh businesses and the wider economy.

Skills shortages and a lack of confidence continue to have a knock-on effect on staff morale and wellbeing, as 60% of Welsh employers say shortages have increased the workload of their employees – a clear indicator that employers need a strategic, inclusive skills plan to develop talent to fill key skills gaps. 

The report has revealed that almost two-fifths (37%) of businesses intend to introduce training and development for staff over the next 12 months, with short courses with certification being the most popular choice for Welsh businesses to help develop skills, as well as fostering a supportive learning environment to enhance employee attraction, engagement and retention. 

75% of Welsh organisations that currently use apprenticeship programmes are expecting to increase or commit to the same number of learners over the next 12 months, highlighting the value placed on apprenticeships as a means of cultivating new talent and addressing specific skill needs.


Baroness Martha Lane Fox CBE, Chancellor at The Open University and President of the British Chambers of Commerce commented: “Despite tiny green shoots of improvement, the skills gap remains stubbornly high.

“This year’s Business Barometer, exposes the impact of this enduring challenge on organisations of all types, including overwork, diminished productivity, and compromised wellbeing. 

“What’s concerning is the critically low confidence in AI and green technology and the lack of strategic plans or initiatives to engage vital underrepresented groups – both of which are essential to addressing the pivotal challenges of our future. 

By fostering innovative strategies and inclusive initiatives, we can bridge the skills gap and build a more resilient workforce.” 

Dr Scott McKenzie, Assistant Director of Learning and Curriculum at The Open University (OU) in Wales said: “Once again, employers and businesses in Wales have told us that skills and training are key to helping them meet future challenges and giving our economy a boost.

“At the OU in Wales, much of our focus in recent years has been on supporting businesses navigate the post-covid world through innovative approaches like short courses, microcredentials and degree apprenticeships.

“Work-based learning can help people reach their potential while they earn, as well as help organisations address the skills gap that the Business Barometer highlights.” 

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25 days ago

In my industry, in years gone by, you’d need a degree to get in but over the last 20 years, this has fallen away as we face a shortage of people coming through. I share my employer’s view that the only realistic way to recruit people is to get youngsters in and train them up. This is a problem for us as we are struggling to find young people under the age of 25 who can focus, communicate and stay off their phones and vapes for long enough. They seem to leave school with no idea how the world works.… Read more »

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
25 days ago

There has been such underinvestment in education and training under the tories little wonder theres a skills shortage. Lockdown didnt help. However the Senedd have to take responsibility too as Welsh acheivement at school is much much lower than other countries.

Mark Obrien
Mark Obrien
25 days ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

I work in Apprenticeships and was offered a job by a Welsh training provider just before Christmas which was withdrawn in January due to cuts to Welsh funding. I now work for an English training provider. Despite living in Wales.

Beau Brummie
Beau Brummie
25 days ago

I wd love to know the detailed breakdown of A levels in STEM in Wales.

Quantity, quality, and year-on-year trends. To my knowledge there really aren’t enough teachers, esp ddwyeithog ones, in these subjects.

That’s before we get to the various universities in Wales, and the situation there – if you believe that universities have a contribution to make.

Nigel's pet toad
Nigel's pet toad
25 days ago

Why aren’t companies finding people with the right aptitude and training them? It’s not the job of schools to provide business with an exact skills match because what’s needed today will be different tomorrow and schools can’t possibly respond that quickly. A good grounding in the basics is all they should expect from candidates fresh out of education.

25 days ago

Schools have not been expected to produce young people with “an exact skills match”. However it’s not unreasonable to expect young people to bring with them a capacity for learning and a bit of motivation which schools should strive to develop. Parents too have to take some responsibility for the state their kids are in by the time they get to age 16, 18 or even later but that is probably one of our biggest social problems today.

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