Jonathan Moreland, Partner

A shortage of skills will be the biggest issue employees face this year



Earlier this year ACAS commissioned a YouGov Poll to ascertain the biggest issues workers believe their current workplace will face throughout 2019.


YouGov interviewed 2,035 workers below Senior Manager level. Interestingly, over half of those polled (53%) took the view that getting the right people, with the right skills will be the biggest issue their employer will face this year. The second major issue related to productivity and technological change.

Three months on from the announcement, many media outlets and employers have published a number of articles relating to ‘solving’ the looming fear with the recommendation retraining employees and focusing on apprenticeships.


Also featured on the ACAs ‘big issues list’, workers identified that having fit and healthy staff and equality and fairness would be a work place issue. There is a common theme in that employers, and rightly so, are looking into their employee engagement and wellbeing initiatives, whether that is supporting awareness days publicly or investing in healthcare plans available to staff.

Perhaps surprisingly, the issue which received the fewest votes was tackling sexual harassment, with only 3% of those polled expecting this to be a problem over the coming year. This comes as quite a shock considering we are surrounded by the ‘me too’ movement and Gender Pay Gap Reporting for the private sector is due next month.

The Chief Executive of ACAS, Susan Clews, stated in her report that “employees feel getting workers with the right skills is a key concern in the year ahead. This could be attributed to uncertainty around our relationship with the EU at the moment, or general concerns about skills shortages.


Technological change is also on people’s minds, and we have found that if it is not managed well, then it can cause stress and impact workplace relations.

It is unsurprising that productivity continues to be a top concern in UK workplaces. We believe a well managed and innovative workplace, that encourages employee engagement, can help improve the UK’s low productivity and make the most of people’s skills.”


On a final and hopefully more positive note, 15% of participants in the Poll stated, “I don’t think there will be any issues faced by my current workplace in the next year.” Let us all hope that their prediction is correct.

As a firm offering employment law services, we witness first hand the issues involved when opportunities provided by employers are not created or made available to staff; similarly when support is given by the employer to enable employees to perform, however they do not meet the required expectation.

If you have a query relating to this article, or require further advice on other aspects of employment or HR law, please contact Jonathan Moreland,, or Sharney Randhawa,, or call us on 0191 3842441

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