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December 10th, 2019

The undersupply of highly skilled workers in the UK workforce has been well documented, with latest research from The Open University reinforcing the extent of skills shortages with 68% of employers struggling to find the skills they need in the last year at a total cost to UK business of £4.4 billion.

Whilst the potential impact of the fourth industrial revolution, an ageing workforce and the uncertainty of Brexit on the supply of skills hit the headlines, the lack of skills in the UK labour market is not a new issue. Between 2011 and 2017, the Employer Skills Survey has shown an increase in the density of vacancies employers find hard to fill because of skills shortages, from 16% of all vacancies to 22%.

Higher skilled jobs make a key contribution to economic performance across the UK and regionally. Around 615,000 people work in a high skilled occupation, contributing 42% of total employment in the Leeds City Region alone.

Skills shortages cut across all sectors, through a worrying and persistent pattern of endemic skills shortages across Financial & Professional Services, Healthcare and Manufacturing continues to prevail. The most in-demand, hard-to-fill vacancies dominate these sectors, with Management Consultants, Directors and CEOs, Secondary Teaching and Software/IT Professionals proving to be the hardest positions to fill across the UK.

In the five years to 2024, Economic modelling firm, EMSI estimate is that there will be 2,482,000 job openings to be filled, the majority of which will be highly skilled, managerial or technical roles.

With business facing increasing pressure to reduce timescales and costs whilst maintaining quality and front-line services, inefficiencies and skills gaps can be ill-afforded if public sector businesses are to succeed and thrive in the current economic climate. Access to a highly skilled and adaptable workforce capable of developing innovative practices to boost business performance is central to unlocking business growth.

Whilst it’s important to acknowledge the role of employers and the skills system to access the requisite training and support to grow the skills of their workforce, at this juncture it has never been more critical for employers to have access to skilled interim consultants or contractors where specialist expertise or fast turnaround is required to optimise business performance or tackle skills shortages within an organisation.

Access to leading technical specialists can quickly result in increased market sustainability and relevance in an ever competitive world. It can also be used as an appropriate tool to enhance the skills and capabilities of the existing workforce.

Through effective knowledge share, work shadowing or train-the-trainer opportunities or similar initiatives an employer may choose to implement, this would maximise the return on investment for the business and enhance workforce skills, resulting in increased performance and productivity gains.

Over the last 18 months, here at Futures we have successfully joined a number of significant public sector frameworks to create a  quick and easy route to market for public sector customers to access skilled contractors and specialists.

Some of these frameworks include:

G-Cloud11 – G-Cloud 11 allows UK public sector bodies to choose and buy cloud computing services.

Digital Outcomes & Specialists 4 – This agreement helps the public sector buy, design, build and deliver digital outcomes by finding appropriate specialists to deliver agile software development.

Non Clinical Temporary and Fixed Term Staff – This framework is produced by the Workforce Alliance, which consists of two public sector organisations: NHS Procurement in Partnership and Crown Commercial Service (CCS). The framework helps NHS trusts and all other public sector organisations to improve efficiency, save money and find effective staffing solutions.

The ability to access frameworks set up by other contracting authorities, such as the Crown Commercial Service assist the procurement process and allow the public sector to easily see what is on offer in the market from quality suppliers.

Public sector employers can be assured that Crown Commercial Service suppliers have undergone a robust due diligence and application process to certify their credibility, suitability and economic standing.

Other key benefits for customers include:

  1. Flexibility to determine the specific requirement at the call off order stage


  1. Saving time at a critical stage in a project, as the customer can firm up the requirement at the appropriate time and simply call-off rather than having to go through a competitive exercise that could cause unnecessary delays to a project


  1. Avoids re-work as frameworks can be used to remove the need for requisitions and approval processes as the risk has already been managed at the point of acceptance on the framework


  1. Organisations with devolved budgets, such as Local Authorities or Education establishments may find frameworks a suitable method of conducting business in an organisation


  1. Ability to direct award, in some instances, giving choice and flexibility to hiring managers and reducing time to hire by avoiding competing for all requirements


  1. Simpler and integrated way of procuring complex solutions, such as the requirement for teams or individuals to deliver major digital transformation projects


However, whilst Frameworks are a fundamental part of effectively managing the supply of services, offering the public sector a smarter way of purchasing than placing ‘one-off’ orders for recurrent work they are are often a source of confusion, and complex to navigate.


How we can help

We’re proud to support the public sector in accessing the best people for the role or project at hand. We specialise in providing interim managers, project solutions and subject matter experts throughout the public sector. Here at Futures, we offer a range of flexible staffing and resourcing solutions that ensure your project or recruitment needs are handled in the most effective manner, avoiding costly and unproductive resourcing mistakes.

With a long history of working with local authorities throughout the UK we help to deliver social care and education IT systems, social care transformation, digital transformation, and housing and regeneration. In fact, we’ve already worked with 146 out of 152 top tier councils (county councils, city councils and borough councils).

Read more about the frameworks that we operate on and how to find us. If you have any questions or if would like step-by-step support in using any of the above frameworks please contact Rachel Mather.


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