A skills shortage is preventing nearly all of businesses in Lancashire filling vacancies, a new study has revealed.
The Skills for Life survey, conducted for the Lancashire Evening Post, showed 88 per cent of businesses with a vacancy said a lack of skills and/or qualifications was the reason they had failed to fill the role.
A further 76 per cent also cited a lack of applicants with relevant work experience was a problem, and nearly half (48 per cent) said a lack of “personal and social skills” was a significant factor.
Hugh Evans, policy director at the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, which carried out the study, said the education system was “failing to provide young people with the skills businesses are looking for”.
He said: “The current system places too much emphasis on ‘how to remember’ rather than ‘how to do’.
“Schools should be encouraged to work with their local businesses to develop preparation for work initiatives that provide the softer skills that employers require.”
He also highlighted the need for more balanced careers advice to be offered in schools, and more focus on providing training in the workplace.
The research also showed firms are struggling to train staff in their workplace, with 39 per cent saying they did not have the cash, 35 per cent saying there is no relevant training provided, and 28 per cent unable to release staff for training.
Of those suffering this problem, 55 per cent said tax breaks on the cost of training would enable them to invest in skills.
Chamber president Malcolm Clarke, who chairs its policy group on skills, believes more needs to be done to get young people thinking about different ways to get skills.
This week, Prime Minister Nick Clegg revealed Lancashire is leading the North West in
Mr Clarke said: “For me it is all about choices, both in terms of being told about them and making the right ones.
“I still think the system places too much importance on going the academic route, even when we know that is not right for all.
“How can a young person at school know what a job in construction or engineering could give them, if no-one tells them or they have no experience of it?”
The skills chief is also chairman of the Preston Vocational Centre, based in the city council’s former works department, and believes it offers young people another way to get skills.
For more on tackling Lancashire’s skills gap, see your lepbusinessweek supplement in Tuesday’s Lancashire Evening Post.