New Report from OU: The Business Barometer 2024

  • Blog

  • News

  • Reports & Resources

The latest edition of an annual report published by The Open University, in partnership with the British Chambers of Commerce, has found that longstanding skill challenges remain which are hampering organisations in a number of ways.

A UK-wide employer survey of more than 1,300 employers, found that 62% of organisations are currently facing skills shortages. While this is down from 73% in 2023, the ongoing impacts are widespread.

  • 64% say they are not confident about applying new AI and green technologies.
  • 68% of organisations with shortages acknowledge this increases workload on existing staff.

While many employers are responding by offering training and committing to expanding apprenticeship numbers, the report also reveals a lack of strategic planning when it comes to tackling the skills gap.

  • Only 19% say they have implemented a written skills plan for 2024, while 71% have not.
  • 63% of organisations do not have specific recruitment, retention, or training initiatives for targeted groups such as people with disabilities or younger workers.

The report concludes with a number of recommendations to help employers to tackle skills gaps and make the case for proactive investment in growing their own talent.

Download report – Business Barometer 2024

Despite tiny green shoots of improvement, the skills gap remains stubbornly high. This year’s Business Barometer, exposes the impact of this enduring challenge on organisations of all types, including overwork, diminished productivity, and compromised wellbeing.

What’s concerning is the critically low confidence in AI and green technology and the lack of strategic plans or initiatives to engage vital underrepresented groups – both of which are essential to addressing the pivotal challenges of our future.

By fostering innovative strategies and inclusive initiatives, we can bridge the skills gap and build a more resilient workforce.

Baroness Martha Lane Fox CBE
Chancellor at The Open University and President of the British Chambers of Commerce

Skills shortages are impacting businesses and staff across the country and employers need to plan effectively and implement flexible, inclusive initiatives to develop and retain existing talent and attract more diverse groups into the workforce.

With the majority (70%) of students at The Open University currently working full or part-time during their studies, we are well equipped to support organisations through the skills shortage, offering flexible courses and utilising the latest online technology, to fit around business priorities and personal responsibilities.

Viren Patel
Director of Employers and Partnerships at The Open University