5 tips on how to reduce costs during a skills shortage

Significant skills shortages in the UK are costing businesses in excess of £2 billion per year in higher salaries, recruitment fees and temporary staffing according to new research by the Open University.

The Open University Business Barometer has found that 90% of UK-based businesses have struggled to recruit candidates with the relevant skills in the last 12 months, causing them to inflate salaries to attract talent costing at least £527 million.

Neil Purcell, Global CEO of Talent Works International, has given us his 5 top tips on how to reduce costs during a skills shortage:

The ‘Skills Gap’ is not a new phenomenon

Although popular at the moment, the ‘Skills Gap’ is not a new buzz word. It has actually been around for quite some time and it looks like it is here to stay. Neil Purcell states, ‘There is no quick fix. In the short-term companies have, and will continue to pay increased salaries to secure the talent they need. Considerations and measures need to be put in place to address this. It’s a longer-term strategy that will pay dividends in the future.’

We need to invest in future business leaders

This sounds simple but it is something that can often be neglected, especially when businesses are under resourced. In a recent study we conducted, we discovered that training and development opportunities were important to older generations as well as younger generations. 

Neil advises that we can’t just rely upon ‘on the job training’ we also need to; ‘invest in both time and money to train and retain the workforce of the future.’

Take note of the Apprenticeship Levy

‘Taking advantage of the Apprenticeship Levy is key for both small and large companies’ says Neil Purcell.

Increasing the number of apprenticeships will increase the range of skills within the workforce, as well as enabling companies to create talent pools that address skills shortages within their business. The levy can also be used to up-skill your current workforce.


A high staff turnover can be a key factor on an organisation’s bottom line. Creating loyalty amongst employees is crucial in retaining talent.

Neil says it simply; ‘If you invest in people, up-skill, engage and nurture, they will stay.’

Work-life balance

Again, another buzzword which looks like it is here to stay. Neil explains, ‘there are other ways of attracting and retaining skilled workers beyond salary. This includes giving a wider consideration to benefits, flexible working, support, engagement, environment, investment in the organisation and it’s employees and continued personal development.’

The full findings of the Open University report will be presented to MPs and Peers at an event in the Houses of Parliament on 11 July.

Finding the right talent but struggling to get them onboard? Check out our blog on how to improve candidate experience.