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Are skills gaps to blame for the increased unemployment rates?

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Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that unemployment grew by 25,000 in the quarter from April-June. 1.85 million people are now unemployed in the UK. But after a few years of employment growth, what has caused this dip? Is the job boom over?

Contrary to what you might expect, these figures don’t necessarily indicate that employers want to hire less staff. If anything, according to some analysts, employers are as keen to hire as always – but a lack of skilled workers is holding them back.

Back in May, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) revealed that the UK has the biggest skills gap between unemployed people and workers, outstripping the 22 other countries in the study.

The OECD’s study looked at 16-29 year olds who were not in education, employment or training, compared to people of the same age who were employed. The study found a 12.6% gap in literacy rates (double the OECD average) and a 9.6% difference in problem-solving skills between the two groups. More clearly needs to be done to ensure that school leavers have the basic skills they need for employment.

A CIPD survey of 1,000 companies revealed that half were looking to actively boost the skills of their employees, while a third were looking to take on more apprentices in an effort to eliminate the skills gap in school leavers.

But it’s not only basic skills that are lacking. A lack of digital skills is a rising problem, especially when 27% of job growth in London is within the digital and tech sectors. One study indicates that the UK will need 750,000 skilled digital workers by 2017, and we are currently nowhere near close to that number.

So what can you do to make sure that you don’t get lost down the skills gap?

If you’re already in employment, then discuss the possibility of training with your boss. Even if the budget doesn’t stretch to a formalised training regime, there are plenty of free online tutorials that will teach you a variety of digital skills, from coding to basic Creative Suite skills. Ask your boss if you can dedicate a few afternoons to learning new skills, or keeping your existing skills sharp.

And if you’re not currently in employment, then you should check out those free tutorials too. It won’t be long before digital skills will be a must – or at least a distinct advantage – in every job. So if you want a head start in your job hunt, you’d better make sure your skills are up to scratch!

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