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Is there a skills shortage?

By JAMES COAKES Published 4th Aug 2014
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XYZ Training Services announced today that they were expanding their training offering with the help of a government grant. Managing Director Seymour Dividends said; 'This region has the highest number of unemployed young people that it has ever had and we want to give them the skills that they require to get good jobs'.

On any given day you will see a press release along these lines faithfully published in regional press. Sometimes you see it in the nationals. Sadly it's fairly typical for reporters to pretty much publish press releases without questioning the content.

Most of the jobs which young people go into will offer 'on the job' training. Sometimes this approach is criticised; 'we offer on the job training' means 'we don't have an adequate training programme'. However, for many jobs the best form of training is on the job, where people can learn skills and immediately put them into practice. Some of the training offered in non-vocational settings can be largely irrelevant when it comes to applying for specific jobs.

Another issue is that older people are now retiring later and having to work to survive. This puts them into direct competition, in many cases, with younger workers. While it's in the interest of training companies to explain high levels of youth unemployment as a 'skills gap' issue it may just be an unavoidable consequence of the pensions crisis.

There may well be a skills shortage is such areas as medicine and professional areas where not enough graduates are taking the right degrees. However, it's simplistic to say that it's the cause of high levels of unemployment among young people and throwing grant money at the situation may not be the solution. Nice work though, if you can get it.

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