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UK Jobseekers and Employers Face Huge Skills Mismatch


UK employers struggle to recruit qualified entry-level employees across industries

Huge mismatches exist between the workers UK employers need and the qualifications that jobseekers possess, according to a new data tool – the first of its kind in the UK – developed by the think tank IPPR and the analytics company Burning Glass Technologies, as part of JPMorgan Chase’s New Skills at Work programme.

The new tool, called “Where the Work Is”, matches online data from 2014 about the vacancies that employers are offering with data about what qualifications jobseekers actually have. The unique tool allows training providers, employers and policymakers to look at how supply and demand for different types of jobs vary in different local areas of the UK.

The data reveals that across the UK there were some 1.8 million entry-level vacancies in mid-skilled occupations in 2014, with 8 sectors advertising more than 100,000 vacancies:

  • Sales and marketing (273,000)
  • Personal care – eg. care assistants and nursing auxiliary (214,000)
  • Public services (210,000)
  • Hospitality (115,000)
  • Childcare (113,000)
  • Business (112,000)
  • Finance admin – eg. bank clerks and payroll (102,000)
  • Information technology (100,000)

A high level of vacancies at any one time doesn’t necessarily mean a sector will  struggle for long to fill jobs because there may be a relatively high supply of suitable candidates. The tool shows how difficult some UK employers are finding it to recruit qualified entry-level employees. The top three sectors where there are strikingly more advertised vacancies than qualified job seekers are:

  • Personal care (214,000)
  • Metal work  (48,000)
  • Health associates – (37,000)

There are also mismatches in the other direction: while in some sectors employers are struggling to find qualified employees, in others too many qualified jobseekers compete for every job. The top three sectors in the latter category in 2014 were animal care, agriculture and creative occupations.

There are even more acute mismatches within particular geographical areas. These vary by region.

This data suggests that the UK skills system needs to become much more responsive to the needs of the British economy and to the needs of local employers.  Education and training providers need to become more ‘demand led’, offering courses that more closely match the opportunities in local labour markets.

You can view the website here:

Giselle Cory, IPPR Senior Research Fellow, said:

“This new big data tool dashboard reveals that, though there are hundreds of thousands of mid-skilled jobs out there for new entrants, there is a big mismatch between what employers want and the qualifications or aspirations that jobseekers actually have.

“Employers are struggling to find qualified employees in occupations such as sales and marketing and personal care – while thousands of jobseekers are struggling to find jobs in graphic design and arts and media.

“The mismatches are even more acute within some local areas. For example, London employers are particularly struggling to find qualified entry-level IT technicians, while Birmingham employers are struggling to find entry-level metal workers and engineering technicians.

“If Britain wants to increase employment among young people leaving education the government will need to find ways to help them to acquire skills in sectors where job opportunities actually exist. In some cases, these sectors will also need to find ways to make occupations more attractive to young people. There is a role for education and training providers too.”

Hang Ho, Head of Philanthropy for Europe, Middle-East and Africa at J.P. Morgan said:

“Good data is key to diagnosing the problems of skills mismatch in today’s UK employment market. It’s vital that training providers, employers and policy makers have access to the best and most timely data available to inform their decision-making. We believe this new data tool is an example of this, and can be invaluable in shaping UK skills policy in the future”

JPMorgan Chase is providing support for the new data tool as part of its New Skills at Work programme, which aims to identify strategies and support data-driven solutions that help improve labour market infrastructure and develop the skilled workforce globally.

Across the UK the Where The Work Is’ website shows that:

In Scotland there were over 120,000 entry-level job opportunities being advertised in 2014. The sales and marketing sector had 17,000 openings, 11,000 at graduate level. In the personal care sector there were 16,000 vacancies.

In Wales there were almost 60,000 entry-level jobs being advertised. 8,000 were in personal care, possibly a result of low salaries in the sector. For young graduates the greatest numberof opportunities lay in sales and marketing.

In the North West of England there were 190,000 entry-level mid-skilled job openings. In common with other regions, sales and marketing was the number one sector for starters, with more than 27,000 openings.

The North East of England is a region with one of the lowest number of overall entry-level vacancies, at 54,000 in 2014.. Personal care was the profession with the most unfilled jobs (7,000), but it is also one of the lowest paid on average.

Yorkshire and the Humber had 142,000 unfilled, mid-skilled jobs, 20,000 of them in sales and marketing.

In the East Midlands there were 130,000 entry-level openings. Sales had 17,000 openings, 11,000 of which were for higher education graduates, followed by the caring profession, which offers greater opportunities for further education-qualified ex-students.

In the West Midlands there were  over 166,000 entry-level job openings in 2014.. There  were 15,000 sales opportunities for higher education graduates, and 16,000 places for further education-qualified people in caring services, although the latter has a lower average pay.

In the East of England there were more than 187,000 vacancies, including 27,000 in personal care.

In the South East there were more than 291,000 such openings, with 45,000 in sales and marketing.

South West England had 155,000 vacancies, with 21,000 in sales and marketing.


Stuart has over 10 year’s experience in and around the recruitment industry, working his way up from a Production Editor to Director of Onrec.

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