With around 40% of employers struggling to fill positions globally, there is a clear worldwide skills gap. A skills gap refers to when the supply of workers with specific skills does not meet industry demand. This can have an adverse economic impact, and affect employment rates within the nation.

Many nations are working hard to close these skills gaps by training students from a younger age and offering schemes like apprenticeships, or by employing foreign workers. Here, we’ll go through how certain countries are working hard to close the skills gap.

The UK is closing its tech skills gap

East London Tech City
East London Tech City – photo credit: Stephen McKay / Wikipedia

A 2017 study into the skills gap within the technology industry found that a staggering 94% of employers agree that the gap exists across the entire sector. Despite businesses in the industry focusing on their own internal training programs, the government’s pledge to crack down on “low skilled migration” is a cause for concern. These changes could prevent skilled workers earning below £30,000 from entering the UK, making it even more difficult for employers to find staff with the right skill set.

Consequently, niche job sites for tech roles are experiencing a boom period. For instance, positions in SAP (systems, applications, and products) need program-specific skills and are in extremely high demand. However, these roles can be undertaken by freelancers, making SAP recruitment specialists vital to matching skilled candidates with the right jobs. This is extremely useful for British tech businesses needing to hire international experts to bypass the restriction on lower-skilled—and therefore, lower paid—immigrants.

Singapore is plugging its smart manufacturing skills gap

Smart manufacturing
photo credit: YouTube

Singapore is currently facing a huge skills gap in smart manufacturing, which is defined as: “Fully-integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond in real time to meet changing demands and conditions in the factory, in the supply network, and in customer needs.”

Research by Singapore Management University and JP Morgan found that Singapore is facing a huge skills shortage in the electronics and electrical engineering manufacturing sector. Many skills required in these roles need to be transferable to smart manufacturing. The study revealed that employment in this sector fell by over 15% from 2010 to 2015, despite the industry’s huge growth, with a lack of work experience and specialist skills cited as the two main reasons for this situation.

The Singapore government has implemented a number of different schemes aimed at addressing this smart manufacturing skills gap. For example, the launch of the Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) helps professionals switch careers and retrain in new skills, with many of these dedicated to manufacturing sector training. Another way the Singapore government is tackling the smart manufacturing skills shortage is through SkillsFuture, which is aimed at training Singaporeans in the skills of the future economy, including smart manufacturing training programmes.

New Zealand is narrowing its construction skills gap

Construction site

According to New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE), the country is facing a severe shortage of construction workers, and the government has announced that around 50,000 more workers will be needed by 2022 to meet demand. The skills shortage has been fueled by a variety of factors, most notably a boom in New Zealand’s construction industry working against an overreliance on short-term contractors, and little investment in training.

Consequently, the New Zealand government has been focusing on narrowing this gap through a comprehensive action plan. This plan features six “initial priority areas”, including leveraging government procurement, expanding skills, and employing more migrants.

Some of these steps have already been put into action. For instance, both the country’s Economic Development and Construction Ministers have written to the chief executives of 137 government departments and agencies to encourage them to follow the guidelines right away.

The ministers have urged them to include skills and training components as requirements in new construction contracts before the guidelines actually come into effect in 2019. In addition, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway announced in June 2018 that the government would launch a temporary KiwiBuild Skills Shortage list, making it easier for construction companies to hire migrant workers. This allows these businesses to go through a quicker process to find such workers when there are no local candidates.