Employers across the construction and engineering sectors see skills shortages as a greater threat to business performance than threats such as rising oil prices, according to a recent business poll commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills.
The poll into Foundation Degrees – courses that are designed and delivered in partnership with employers – reveals that 92% of employers predict that their business will be threatened in 2006 by a lack of skilled personnel.
Furthermore, 82% of employers believe that they may suffer from a lack of skills amongst their existing workforce. However, despite recognising the enormity of the skills’ threat, only 9% have been involved in designing courses to help combat the skills issues.
Given that one of the greatest threats to business in 2006 is judged to be increased competition in the marketplace (97%), employers in the construction and engineering sectors are proving slow to take action to seize the skills’ initiative and increase their competitive edge. One in four employers in across these sectors doubt they will meet business targets in the next financial year.
The poll also identifies that the two sectors do back vocational qualifications as a concept, with 60% supporting vocational training provision. Ninety-one percent believe that there is a clear link between training and profitability and 88% agree that encouraging staff to increase their skills helps to increase employee satisfaction and retention. Ninety-three percent state that the combination of academic knowledge and work-based experience offered by Foundation Degrees provides the best preparation for graduates entering the workforce.
However, in spite of this, employers are still not going far enough: more than one in three are not involved with any kind of vocational training for their workforce, let alone committed to the design of courses to help meet their specific business needs.