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Welsh Organisations Skills Shortages Worth £155.2 million


Welsh organisations are suffering from a skills shortage worth £155.2 million, the equivalent of £13,740 per organisation

  • The Open University Business Barometer reveals that nearly three quarters of Welsh organisations can’t fill roles as they would like to
  • Managerial roles prove hardest to fill, as leaders turn to investment in training to fill gaps from within

Skills shortages are costing Welsh organisations over £150 million pounds according to a new report that monitors the business landscape of Wales and the rest of the UK.

The Open University Business Barometer 2019 reveals that despite Welsh organisations forking out, on average, £13,740 on buying in new talent, many are turning towards sustainable, internal training and development opportunities to combat the Welsh skills gap.

The extent of the national skills shortage is revealed in the report as nearly three quarters (74%) of Welsh organisations said that they have had difficulties recruiting for a role due to candidates lacking the necessary skills. A damaging shortage of managerial candidates was the reason why over half of these organisations faced difficulties whilst recruiting.

However, with the job market difficult to navigate – and bringing in new employees an expensive process – it seems as though organisations in Wales are turning towards investing in their own employees with workplace training and development opportunities.

Approach to addressing the skills shortage

Expenditure 2019

Expenditure 2018

Percentage change

Extra spending on recruiters fees




Training to boost skills of those hired at a lower level




Increasing salaries on offer




Managerial roles are proving the most difficult for Welsh organisations to fill.

Respondents to the annual survey said that candidates for managerial positions at senior, intermediate and junior level were in shortest supply, making them even more difficult to recruit for than directorial or entry-level roles.

As a result of these difficulties just under half (47%) of Welsh organisations have increased their internal training budgets in the last year. The fact that Welsh organisations have on average increased their training budgets by the most in the UK is a clear signal of their intent to prioritise internal training solutions to these recruitment difficulties1. The reasons behind this redistribution of funding are unequivocal – with 60 per cent of organisations saying it was down to a need to building talent from within.

The current uncertainty surrounding Brexit seems to be a key driver of this change in gear, with over three in five Welsh senior business leaders agreeing that the skills shortage will worsen after the UK officially leaves the European Union.

Across the whole of the UK, seven in 10 (71%) employers agree that developing the skills of the existing workforce is a more sustainable approach to tackling the skills shortage. However, it is crucial that any training offered helps rather than hinders. The Open University offers flexible, technology-enabled degrees and apprenticeships, which allow employees to fit learning around work and personal commitments – and which nearly three in five (56%) Welsh employers believe is less disruptive than other forms of training.

Lynnette Thomas, Deputy Director for The Open University in Wales, responded to the findings:

“It’s promising to see that a good proportion of organisations in Wales are looking to invest in the skills of their current crop of talent. If this figure is to grow even further, employers and training providers need to work together to ensure training is effectively deployed, and doesn’t overburden existing employees. The OU offers flexible learning, which can support professional development alongside work. This ranges from free learning on our OpenLearn site, to degree apprenticeships, to our triple-accredited MBA.

It’s clear that the threat of Brexit remains very real to Welsh business leaders; it is of growing importance that initiatives like work-based training – that is neither intrusive nor disruptive – are embraced if the country’s businesses looking to remain agile throughout these uncertain times. Establishing this culture effectively gives organisations the opportunity to increasingly rely upon their existing employees, and their adaptable skills, for years to come.”

Further findings, including specific skills shortages by UK Nation, region, and sector and employers’ expectations for the year ahead, as well as details of The Open University’s offering, are available in The Open University Business Barometer 2019