Put simply, the skills gap is the difference between the skills required to complete a job in the workplace and the skills available to a company from its employees. This can mean that a business will lose money, have a low level of productivity, struggle to grow, and experience a high turnover of staff, and many industries are being affected.
To help Year 8 and Year 9 students choose their options, we look at four industries that are experiencing skills shortages, and highlight the subjects that would be beneficial for students to focus on to pursue careers in these sectors.
Let’s face it, things are always going to be built, so there will always be a need for builders, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, bricklayers and roofers. But there is more to a career in the construction industry than just working in the trades. Careers can include architects, surveyors, site managers, CAD technicians and structural engineers – basically, anything that goes into designing, creating and building a structure. However, employment in the UK construction sector fell by nearly 149,000 between 2020 and 2022.
Skills and subjects needed: For all construction careers, will need a good grade in maths, and design and technology would make a great option choice.
Health and social care
The shortage of people working in the health and social care sector has been very well publicised. At the start of 2023 there is around 150,000 jobs available in the sector. Whether helping to improve physical health, mental wellbeing or quality of life, pursuing a career within health and social care does mean you can have a positive influence on the lives of other people.
Skills and subjects needed: With such a diverse range of careers available, the subjects to focus on will depend on the area of the industry you would like to pursue. For example, solid grades in maths, science and English are needed if you would like to become a doctor or a nurse. Sports science would make a good option if you would like to go into sports medicine, and for a job in care, GCSEs in core academic subjects are vital. Being good with people is an essential skill for every job.
The hospitality industry covers everything from hotels and restaurants to pubs and event planning. There is a wide range of career opportunities available in the sector and, with the main goal to ensure a customer has a fantastic experience, it can be a very rewarding industry to work in.
Skills and subjects needed: Good grades in English are a must, and hospitality and catering, and business studies would make great option choices. To pursue a career in hospitality, having planning, communication, and organisation skills would be beneficial.
In January 2019, a report indicated that the manufacturing industry was facing the biggest skills shortage in 30 years. This is in part due to the increased use of automation, meaning the next generation of employees need to have a more tech-based skill set.
Skills and subjects needed: Strength in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects is crucial, and design and technology as an option would be beneficial.
Choosing options is an exciting time for many of our Year 8 and Year 9 students, but it’s also a decision that can be difficult to make. The options that are chosen can affect which subjects they go on to study – which might inform what kind of career they eventually have.
If students are not sure what they would like to do in the future, it is absolutely okay to choose the subjects they like best, or those which they excel at, but remember, we are always available to speak to for advice.