Why UK PLC Has Got to Improve Its Skills; Research Reveals That 40 per Cent of Employers Are Finding It Much Harder to Recruit Good Staff. Penny Cottee Looks at the Crisis in Administration JUST THE JOB

Article excerpt

Byline: PENNY COTTEE

EMPLOYERS across the UK are waking up to the importance both of administrative staff and administration skills, and bosses are convinced that high quality admin resources are the key to a successful business. Yet despite this, few have put in place proper strategies to develop the role of administration in their firms.

Initial findings from the largest survey of administration skills in the UK, show that while 67 per cent of firms now realise admin is more important than ever before, fewer than half have set out procedures to enhance and nurture the skills needed. The research - early results of which have been prereleased exclusively to Just the Job - also highlights worrying skills gaps in administration across the board.

The survey was carried out by the Council for Administration (CfA), the UK's expert body on administration skills. The CfA mailed questionnaires to 5,000 small, medium and large organisations in the private and public sectors, and posted the survey on its website. Both employers and employees were invited to take part, and more than 17 per cent answered the call.

Workers polled included office managers, secretaries/PAs, office administrators and company secretaries. For some, admin is their whole job; for others it's only a part.

"It's the first time staff doing the jobs have been asked for their views," says Nuala Geary, head of commercial sales for the CfA. "We're finding their input particularly interesting as we continue to build a picture of issues in administration."

Another key finding is the call for more skills from employers and staff alike. A quarter of employers report skills gaps, and bosses polled believe a staggering 40 per cent of applicants for admin jobs are not adequately skilled. And worryingly, 40 per cent of employers are also complaining that recruiting good staff is harder than ever before.

"There are issues around education," says Geary.

"Candidates for jobs are clearly not ready for the work environment. New staff are expected to have all the skills from day one, but employers are telling us those expectations are not being met."

The employee questionnaires asked staff to indicate the skills they need for their roles.

Results reveal the top four are communication, IT, team working and organisation/planning.

When asked which skills they felt they needed more training in, the overwhelming vote was for IT skills, followed by supervisory/management.

"Rapid developments in IT and company restructuring have had a huge effect on administrators," says Geary. …