UK businesses and universities are today voicing serious concerns that we are facing a skills mismatch which is standing in the way of economic recovery, says the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB). This is in response to new labour market statistics, published today, revealing that economic inactivity rose to 22.2%, and unemployment rose to 4.2% from December 2023 – February 2024. Meanwhile the data showed that vacancies are still higher than pre-pandemic levels, at 916,000.

Rosalind Gill, Head of Policy and Engagement at the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) said: “New figures released today reveal a worrying increase in the economic inactivity rate, especially driven by young people. Alongside this however, and more concerning still, the level of vacancies is still higher than pre-pandemic. There are signs therefore, that employers across a range of sectors are currently facing difficulty in hiring. Businesses and higher education providers are sharing serious concerns that we are now contending with a skills mismatch.”

Gill concluded: “We urge the Government to implement a comprehensive plan engaging all stakeholders: including education, training, and business sectors. Without assistance, the skills mismatch will continue, and employers will lose out on the innovative, talented workforce they crucially need to grow. As technology continues to advance, the labour market is transforming, and the skills gaps will only become more acute. Failing to address this now may worsen skill gaps and unemployment to unsalvageable levels, impeding our nation’s economic growth and resilience. Urgent action needs to be taken to reverse this worrying trend, and to help people who want to play a crucial role in our economic recovery.”