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Employers urged to develop their own talent amid the continuing skills shortage in Wales

29 Jun 2023 3 minute read
Photo by fran1 from Pixabay

Welsh employers are being urged to consider developing their own talent amid the continuing skills shortage crisis.

New data reveals that three-quarters (75%) of Welsh organisations are experiencing skills shortages. Respondents also note that the skills shortage in Wales has led to an increased workload on staff (70%) and resulted in decreased staff morale and wellbeing (45%)

This year’s Business Barometer report published by The Open University and the British Chamber of Commerce suggests that employers must now rely on the opportunity to “grow your own” talent during a time where nearly one third (29%) of employers in Wales have been prevented from hiring new staff due to candidates’ lack of suitability and overall lack of applicants (43%).

Despite the ongoing skills crisis, the report, indicates a lack of action by employers to tackle the issue, negatively affecting staff wellbeing.

The report found more than one third (34%) of organisation leaders in Wales had failed to implement any written or annual plans to tackle the skills shortage in the past year.

This is significantly lower than last year when almost half (52%) of Welsh employers confirmed they had implemented some form of written plan around recruitment, training and addressing the  shortages.

Despite around two-fifths of Welsh businesses agreeing to increase staff training and investment in 2022, almost 2 in 5 (38%) of organisations in Wales still don’t have specific initiatives, skills programs or workplace adjustments in place to tackle the ongoing issue one year onwards.


Rhys Griffiths, Business Relationship Manager at The Open University in Wales said: “As in previous years, we’re seeing employers in Wales point to the skills shortage as a major challenge.

“Many employers and education providers are coming together to address these challenges – for example through Regional Skills Partnerships – to tackle the skills gap, and these findings show that we need to continue to work towards meeting the skills needs of Wales.

“The cost-of-living crisis means employers are having to do more with less, which is what makes collaboration so important.

“At the OU, we’ve introduced new free hybrid working courses to help decision makers and employees alike adapt to the post-Covid business landscape.

“We’re also offering more non-traditional courses such as degree apprenticeships and microcredentials, which businesses can use as part of their strategy, particularly where there is a focus on work-based learning and the application of newly acquired skills and knowledge.”

The report concludes that by continuing to avoid investing and implementing training programs and plans, Welsh employers will continue to face plunging outputs and reduced employee activity recorded by over half (51%) of respondents.

Ageing workforce

One-third (35%) of organisation leaders have also seen an increase in the number of employees over the age of 50 in the last three years.  With 27% of employees leaving the workforce to retire, the threat of an ageing workforce retiring without skilled employees to replace them as a key concern.

Baroness Martha Lane Fox CBE, Chancellor at The Open University and President of the British Chambers of Commerce commented: “It’s clear from this year’s Business Barometer report that the skills shortage has not improved, despite the existing efforts from organisations across the UK.

“We haven’t solved it yet.

“But what is even more concerning is that organisations aren’t investing in specific talent pools, including underrepresented groups. If organisations continue to ignore these workers, they risk missing out on untapped talent and deepening the skills gap even further.

“There could be a big opportunity for employers here if hidden talent is given a boost.”

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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
9 months ago

Employers need to be a bit more than encouraged. As a country we should, be on the one hand saying “Come to Cymru, loads of R&D grants and tax breaks available, a well-educated and properly skilled populace, willing to graft…” and on the other hand “however, they want proper pay and YOU need to be bringing skills for our people to learn, if not. Go to the Saesneg, they don’t care about their people or their prosperity or the furthering of humanity via skills and knowledge.” ….but we can’t because we are lashed to the Saesneg Establishment System and are… Read more »

9 months ago

Skills shortages have been a constant brake on this country’s ability to innovate, improve efficiency and quality of products and services, thus inhibiting ability to compete effectively. Companies may write plans but often fail to implement the content in full. Given the costs of outsourcing the penny should have dropped by now that the inhouse people resource is the easiest to work with. Buying skills “on tap” can be costly and often produces poor fit whereas a known employee with new skills grafted on has a good start in terms of knowing the context the job fits into. As for… Read more »

john owen
john owen
9 months ago

The Welsh Governments plans for changing the GCSE Subjects will only add to the skill shortage. A combined Science subject is dumbing pupils down.

9 months ago
Reply to  john owen

Very dumb move. It will hinder entrance to science courses at Universities and it could also be damaging for young people at 16-18 chasing the better end of the apprenticeships on offer where something more than a “general science” pass will be desired.

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