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British Businesses Urged To Tackle Skills Shortage

Business leaders believe recruitment of young people is vital to avert skills shortages

Action is required to stem a UK-wide skills crisis, warns new research today.

Three quarters of British businesses believe a significant skills crisis will hit the UK within the next three years (73 per cent), while two fifths predict this will happen within the next 12 months (43 per cent).  Two thirds fear skills shortages will slam the brakes on the UK's economic recovery (68 per cent); while one in three fear it would cause their business to fold (35 per cent).

According to The Prince’s Trust and HSBC report, based on interviews with 616 UK business leaders[1], 72 per cent believe that the recruitment of young people into the workforce is vital to avert a skills crisis.

The research reveals that more than two-fifths are already experiencing skills gaps within their organisations (43 per cent) and over half are currently facing difficulties filling vacancies (53 per cent).

With a third of organisations reporting skills shortages at entry level (32 per cent), youth charity The Prince’s Trust is calling on employers to invest in vocational training for unemployed young people to avoid future skills shortages.

Martina Milburn CBE, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust said: “It is deeply concerning that employers are struggling to fill vacancies when we have hundreds of thousands of unemployed young people desperate for work. The current economic recovery is encouraging, but in order to sustain this growth, UK plc needs to invest in the next generation to avoid a skills vacuum in the future, which threatens to hamper economic growth.

"We are urging businesses to take action now to up-skill the workforce of the future to prevent the bubbling skills crisis from boiling over.”

The Prince’s Trust is working with employers like Whitbread to help unemployed young people gain the skills they need to access available jobs.

Sandra Kelly, Education Manager, The Whitbread Investing in Skills and Employment (WISE) Programme, says: “By partnering with the Prince’s Trust we have been able to make a real difference to the work confidence of young people whilst giving our team members the opportunity to develop their mentoring skills.

“The young participants who have gained experience in Premier Inn have gained invaluable work experience, as well as having the opportunity to gain nationally recognised food safety and health & safety qualifications.  Our Costa programme has also been a great success with clusters of Costa stores working together to give young people a truly life changing opportunity to experience Costa from behind the counter.

“We are proud of our partnership with The Prince’s Trust, as we work together to provide training and experience to the next generation of baristas, chefs and hoteliers, alongside strengthening our business for the future.”

The economic recovery has seen 71 per cent of businesses reporting increased demand for their services over the past 12 months, with 63 per cent saying that they are growing faster than this time last year. However, more than half pinpoint faster growth as the cause of current UK skills gaps (59 per cent), and 45 per cent cite their ageing workforce as a concern.

Antonio Simoes, CEO, HSBC UK said: “It is essential that we invest in young people now and equip them with the skills that both they and British businesses need to thrive. As a major UK employer, we are committed to supporting the economic recovery and tackling youth unemployment. We are proud that our partnership with The Prince’s Trust is helping the next generation move into the workplace with the skills that they need to make a success of themselves and the UK economy.”

Rob Wall, Head of Education and Employment, CBI said: “The lack of skills in key sectors risks acting as a brake on our economic recovery. Organisations like The Prince’s Trust provide a critical role in helping plug the skills gap, equipping young people with the knowledge and skills they need to get on in work and life. Moving forward, we need structural reform to open up more routes to higher skills.”

The Prince’s Trust aims to help 58,000 unemployed young people this year, providing vocational training in sectors with identified skills shortages such as construction, retail and logistics.

In response to the findings, the youth charity is calling on more employers to help increase the number of young people it can support this year.

A number of employers, including HSBC, Marks & Spencer, DHL, Balfour Beatty, Asda and Accenture have also stepped forward to support The Prince's Trust in its mission to upskill the workforce of the future. HSBC is one of a group of leading UK employers – Movement to Work - which aims to support thousands of unemployed young people, giving them the skills and confidence to find a job.

The Prince’s Trust has supported more than 750,000 young people since being set up by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1976. Three in four young people supported by The Trust move into work, education or training.

[1] The research is based on a representative sample of senior directors in UK businesses with 500+ employees. All respondents also had visibility of skills issues within their organisations.

For more information on The Prince’s Trust please contact:

Jess Hookway - 020 7543 1382 / jess.hookway@princes-trust.org.uk

Follow us on Twitter: @PrincesTrust

Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/princestrust

For more information on Whitbread please contact:

Eleanor Turner -  07817 513941 / eleanort@glasshouseconsultancy.com


Notes to editors:

About The Prince’s Trust

Youth charity The Prince’s Trust helps disadvantaged young people to get their lives on track. It supports 13 to 30 year-olds who are unemployed and those struggling at school and at risk of exclusion. Many of the young people helped by The Prince’s Trust are in or leaving care, facing issues such as homelessness or mental health problems, or they have been in trouble with the law. The Trust’s programmes give vulnerable young people the practical and financial support needed to stabilise their lives, helping develop self-esteem and skills for work. Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, education or training. The Prince of Wales’s charity has helped 750,000 young people since 1976 and supports over 100 more each day. Further information about The Prince’s Trust is available at princes-trust.org.uk or on 0800 842 842.

Research background:

The research represents all major UK sectors and samples businesses with 500+ employees. It is based on a representative sample of senior directors with visibility of skills issues. Consisting of 616 interviews across the whole of the UK, the online survey was conducted in May and June 2014. The survey was conducted by Loudhouse, an independent research agency.                    

About Whitbread PLC

Whitbread PLC is the owner of the UK’s favourite hotel chain, Premier Inn and the UK’s favourite coffee shop, Costa as well as restaurant brands, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns. Whitbread PLC employs 43,000 people in over 2,000*[1] outlets across the UK, with its well-loved brands making every day experiences special for over 22 million UK customers every month. Whitbread has outlined growth milestones for 2016 and 2018.  The 2018 milestones are to increase the number of Premier Inn UK rooms to around 75,000 and to double the size of Costa with global system sales of £2bn. At Whitbread we are committed to be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. Our CR programme, ‘Good Together’ is focused on three pillars of Team & Communities, Customer Wellbeing and Energy & Environment. In the year ended 27 February 2014, Whitbread PLC reported a 13.0% increase in Group Revenue to £2,294 million and Underlying Profit before tax of £411.8 million up 16.5%.

Whitbread PLC is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100. It is also a member of the FTSE4Good Index. 

HSBC Bank plc

HSBC serves 16.1 million customers in the UK and employs approximately 43,500 people.  In the UK, HSBC offers a complete range of personal, premier and private banking services including bank accounts andmortgages. It also provides commercial banking for small to medium businesses and corporate and institutional banking services. HSBC Bank plc is a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc.        

The HSBC Group

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. The Group serves customers worldwide from over 6,300 offices in over 75 countries and territories in Europe, Asia, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,758bn at 31 March 2014, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.

About the Opportunity Partnership

The Opportunity Partnership three-year £30 million investment is a collaboration between HSBC and four charities – Catch22, St Giles Trust, The Prince’s Trust and Tomorrow’s People - specialising in employment, training and education of disadvantaged young people. The partnership, launched in April 2013, will help 25,000 disadvantaged 16 to 25 year olds into education, training or work; empowering the most disadvantaged young people with the confidence and skills to demonstrate to employers how they are potential future employees. One year on, over 9,000 disadvantaged young people have been helped into education, training and employment.

Movement to Work

-       Fifteen of Britain’s biggest employers have come together to form Movement to Work, which aims to support long-term unemployed young people into jobs.

-       The companies are Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, BT, Centrica, the Civil Service, Diageo, GSK, HSBC, Kingfisher, M&S, National Grid, Tesco, Unilever, and WPP. 

-       Their aspiration is for Movement to Work to offer vocational training opportunities to thousands of long-term unemployed young people, helping many of them into work, education or training. All young people will be offered one-to-one support after the programme to help them progress in their career.

-       For more details on the movement, go to www.movementtowork.com