MORE than half of Dorset’s employers reported finding it hard to find the right skills before the coronavirus crisis hit, a survey has found.

Responses from 242 employers showed 56 per cent experiencing a “skills gap” in their workforce.

The Dorset 2020 Employer Skills Survey was carried out by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) before the Covid-19 lockdown.

The survey report says: “The latest developments in the pandemic and lockdown have resulted in a sudden and fundamental change to the way many employers are now operating, however the responses from this survey provide valuable insights on the skills needs and challenges in Dorset.”

The report found that 27 per cent of employers responding said there were gaps in digital skills, with 23 per cent seeing gaps in sales and marketing.

“Many employers reported that training provision for digital skills isn’t currently appropriate for their needs,” the report said.

“Given the large proportion of employers that cited digital skills as a gap, it may be worth exploring how this training provision could be improved.”

Complex analytical skills were found hard to come by for 17 per cent, while 15 per cent reported a gap in leadership and management. Employers said they would need more of these skills in the future because of growing digitalisation.

Aside from job-specific skills, the gaps with the biggest impact on productivity were in technical and practical skills, leadership and managerial skills and sales and marketing.

The report found 48 per cent of responding businesses thought training in Dorset could be improved. Their concerns included accessibility, relevance, funding for training and improved apprenticeships.

Twenty-three per cent of employers had found one or more vacancies hard to fill in the previous 12 months.

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