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The true cost of the UK skills gap

We can all delight in the news that according to data from the Office for National Statistics, employment hit a record high in March and unemployment fell to its lowest level since 1975. Whilst obviously positive, unfortunately it has a knock on effect and considerably reduces available talent when recruiting. Combine this with uncertainty over Brexit resulting in people choosing not to change their current role and a lack of EU nationals looking to work in the UK, there is a real problem. The end product is a skills gap that is, according to the latest research from the Open University₁, costing UK businesses more than £2 billion a year in higher salaries, recruitment costs and temporary staffing. The Open University Business Barometer’s role is to monitor the skills landscape of the UK and their recent study has found that 90 per cent of employers have found it difficult to recruit workers with the required skills in the last 12 months. Some have even had to inflate salaries above industry standards, finding it essential to attract talented workers with strong skills, resulting in an extra cost of at least £527 million. The impact of the skills gap hasn’t ended there, with 75% of employers reporting it takes an average of one month and 24 days more than expected to recruit. Again extra costs have had to be incurred, to cover additional recruitment and temporary workers costs, an estimated £1.7 billion. The study has also highlighted a number of other trends, including: Managerial roles are proving particularly difficult to fill, with one in five struggling to hire both senior managers...

Whatsapp and the NHS

The recent cyber attack that left the NHS virtually crippled has had many of us question how well protected is our confidential personal information held by the NHS.  The latest information provided to the BBC₁ appears to show our concerns are well founded and recent events could just be the tip of the iceberg. Use of internet-based messaging apps to send patient information is banned under current NHS guidelines, however, doctors and nurses are using WhatsApp and Snapchat to share information about patients “across the NHS”, health professionals have told the BBC. GP Alisdair MacNair said he was aware of a number of medical groups using WhatsApp to discuss patients. “I have also seen chat on Facebook groups that sails pretty close to the wind in terms of discussing medical information. I’ve definitely seen stuff which is one step away from being patient identifying. I’m very wary of going near anything like that because of the risk of breaching data laws, but it would appear others don’t seem to be aware of the risks.” Georgie Gould, a junior doctor who last year conducted her own study of how doctors were communicating, found 30% of surgeons at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey, were using WhatsApp as part of their day-to-day communication. It bears out similar findings published in the British Medical Journal, which found that of 2,000 doctors across five hospitals, a third were using web-based apps to send clinical information. According to NHS England’s guidelines, the use of WhatsApp or similar app is strictly banned for the purposes of sending patient data. However, the NHS does not provide...