The skills gap has been a topic of discussion for at least a decade. Even our own coverage of the topic stretches back to 2013 when we reported on a “looming tech talent shortage” that left the UK needing 300,000 more digital workers by 2020. Even if that quota was filled by that deadline, the issue of having enough skilled people to fill roles in various industries, including IT, finance and manufacturing, hasn’t gone away.
In fact, it reared its ugly head again in September and October 2023. The latest government report on the skills gap across the UK was published on September 28, 2023 . The report looked at data from 2022 and compared it to the previous reporting period in 2017. The headline figures showed that 23% of all employers in the UK had a vacancy at the time of the survey, with 10% having a skill shortage.
Perhaps more strikingly, 36% of all vacancies in 2022 were due to a skills shortage. That’s up 14% from 2017. Supporting these figures is a survey by City A.M. published in October 2023. As per the report, 80% of financial service recruiters believe the current environment is challenging due, mainly, to a skills shortage. As noted by Peter Healy, CEO of eFinancialCareers, the recruitment climate is strained and, therefore, firms should “scout broadly” for skilled workers .
Search far and wide for talent
Healy’s advice is, essentially, that recruiters shouldn’t confine themselves to traditional avenues. In other words, they should tap new wells, wells that may be outside of this country. Every year, more than 240,000 apply to work in the UK. The UK’s immigration system is a well-trodden path and one that business owners can walk down with the right guide. That guide is a qualified immigration lawyer. Why? Because hiring workers from abroad isn’t simply a case of putting out an advert and flying someone to the UK.
As noted by immigration law firm Reiss Edwards, UK companies need a sponsor licence to hire foreign workers. Satisfying the necessary requirements to obtain a sponsor licence allow a company to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). A CoS allows non UK-nationals to apply for a work visa, such as a skilled worker visa. Put simply, if you want to recruit talent from abroad, you need a sponsor licence. To obtain a sponsor licence and understand its conditions, such as having an adequate HR system, you need advice from a qualified immigration lawyer.