Three-quarters of businesses are impacted by skill shortages – an issue that is costing UK businesses £6.3 billion per year in temporary staff and training for workers who are not as experienced as required. So it’s clear that the skills gap isn’t a problem that is going away without substantial effort and it is certainly not one we can ignore.

It’s fair to say that the skills shortage is not a new phenomenon; however, it has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Amidst the pandemic, organisations are forced to adopt new, often remote, business practices that have further widened the skills gap. In fact, in the latest KMPG post-COVID survey, 62 percent of people said the skills shortage is preventing their organisation from keeping up with the pace of change required to be successful.

In January 2021, we conducted independent market research with 1,000 managers to investigate how severely different industries are affected by the skills shortage, the factors that have triggered the problem and what repercussions have occurred as a result. Potentially unsurprisingly, the research shows that 73% of businesses are currently feeling the strain from a lack of skilled workers.

When managers were asked to what extent their industry is impacted by the skills shortage, the engineering & manufacturing industry came out as worst affected with 85% of people saying they are struggling to find suitable candidates. This is very closely followed by financial services and healthcare with 84% of managers in these sectors saying there is a problem. At the other end of the scale are the sales and legal industries with 52% and 58% of managers experiencing skills shortage related issues.

The full list, which ranks sectors from most to least affected by the skills shortage, is:

Engineering & manufacturing: 85%

Financial services – 84%

Healthcare – 84%

Construction – 83%

Call & contact centre – 75%

Industrial – 77%

Accountancy & finance- 74%

Scientific – 74%

Social work – 74%

HR – 73%

Logistics/ procurement/supply chain – 72%

Business support – 71%

Hospitality – 68%

Transportation – 68%

Marketing - 66%

Legal – 58%

Sales – 52%


We have now compiled all of the research findings into our 2021 report, “Mind the Gap”. The report also looks into what the main causes are for the skills shortages and the implications this has had on businesses. To download the report and find out more about the skills shortage in your industry, download the Skills Shortage Report.