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UK Employer Skills Survey 2017

The UK Employer Skills Survey (ESS) is one of the largest business surveys in the world and provides information on demand for skills, including vacancies, skills shortages, employee skill gaps and the underutilisation of employees in the workplace.

The chart above shows data for workplace vacances. Click to Slide 2 to view data on skills needs and to Slide 3 for data on training. Use the dropdown selection tool to select individual variables. Right click on the charts to select and view the underlying data in a table format.

ESS data is based on survey responses from over 87,000 employers across the UK. This allows us the production of robust Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) at a local level, for all top-tier local authorities and LEPs. The 2017 survey is the fourth in a series conducted biennially since 2011 (the 2019 Employer Skills Survey is being conducted between May and November 2019). Employers with at least two people on the payroll were in scope, and interviews were conducted at an establishment level with the most senior person at the site with responsibility for human resources and workplace skills.


In total, 20 per cent of employers in Somerset reported vacancies at the time of the survey, the same as reported from the HotSW area and England.

While many vacancies will be filled through successful recruitment, half of all vacancies were reported as being hard to fill, a similar proportion to that seen for the HotSW LEP area, the South West and indeed England as a whole.

When asked (without prompting) about the main reasons for hard-to-fill vacancies in their establishment, 7% reported a shortage of suitably skilled workers in the area, which again reflects the picture seen for the HotSW, South West and England.

Overall, ‘skill-shortage’ vacancies represent 26% of all vacancies in Somerset; lower than that seen regionally, but higher than that reported nationally.

Skills Gaps:

Most employers consider themselves to have a proficient workforce with no skills gaps, however, 17% do not. This is the same as the proportion reporting skills gaps at the HotSW and South West level, but higher than that for the whole of England.

Represented as a proportion of all employment, 6% of all staff in the establishments surveyed were considered to have skills gaps, compared to 5% regionally and 4 % nationally.

Although not reported in the charts above, the survey also found that 37% off all establishments felt they had staff who have underutilised skills, compared to 34% for England as a whole.


Most employers fund or arrange training for their staff: in Somerset, 70% claimed to have done so over the previous 12 months; the same as that seen for the HotSW, and slightly higher than that seen for the South West and England.

58% of employers had provided ‘on-the-job’ training in the last 12 months, whilst 47% had provided ‘off-the-job’ training over the same period. Moreover, 50% of employers had provided some form of online training, or e-training in that same period.

Overall, the number of staff receiving training in Somerset as a proportion of all staff was reported to be 61%, just slightly lower than that seen for the HotSW, South West and England.

Within Somerset, each person trained received an average of 6.6 days training over the previous 12 months, higher than that seen for the HotSW (5.9 days), the South West (6.0 days) and England (6.4 days). As a proportion of all staff in Somerset, this equates to 4 days of training per person.

The Full Report

If you would like to learn a little more about the Employer Skills Survey, better understand what the findings mean, or view the full 2017 report, please click here.

Source: Department for Education, Employer Skills Survey 2017, August 2018