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Businesses struggle to find skilled staff

Almost two fifths of businesses that need employees with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills have trouble finding the right people, a report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has found.

In a survey of 294 employers, covering 1.24 million employees, the CBI also found that:

  • 45 per cent of businesses say that STEM-qualified applicants don't arrive rounded, grounded and ready for work
  • 52 per cent of businesses want the Government to safeguard higher education funding for STEM subjects
  • attitudes to work and general aptitudes rank higher in importance when recruiting than academic results alone
  • 70 per cent of employers value foreign language skills in their employees, with French considered the most useful
  • 67 per cent of employers feel that careers advice for young people is not good enough

The CBI's director-general, John Cridland, said:

"We're facing a critical lack of skills in some key industries, just as the economy starts to pick up. Long-term, sustainable growth will come in part from rebalancing towards high-value products and services, which demand much better technical skills.

"We need to boost our skills base urgently before the UK loses more ground. It's time to stop looking on enviously at Germany and build a system that works.

"Firms are already investing in training but they cannot do it on their own. We want to see the skills budget protected as far as possible, while focussing on business needs. That means routing funding more directly to firms. We can't afford for funding to be badly targeted or sucked up by bureaucracy."