Access key links:

This site uses cookies to help make it more useful and reliable. Our cookies page explains what they are, which ones they use, and how you can manage and remove them.

Sub menu

UK Commission’s Employer Skills Survey 2011: UK Results

ukess-coverThe UK Commission’s Employer Skills Survey 2011 is the first UK-wide employer skills survey, and one of the largest surveys of its kind in the world. The survey looks at training and staff development, vacancies unfilled because of skills shortages, gaps in employees’ skills, recruitment of education leavers, and a host of other measures to provide a comprehensive and robust picture of skills needs and training investment in UK business.

Employer Skills Survey 2011 : UK Results (PDF, 1.8 Mb) 
Published: May 2012

This report looks in detail at findings across the country and breaks our results down by UK nation, sector, occupation, and size of establishment. Four forthcoming reports will cover the trends through time in each of the four nations. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has published results from the first ever employer skills survey to cover the entire United Kingdom. Over 87,500 employers from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland were interviewed as part of the project.

The results provide a comprehensive source of data for users:

  • Employers can identify how they compare to their sector in their provision of training or own experience of skill deficiency and identify key challenges and opportunities for their sector;
  • Individuals and careers advisers can identify sectors and occupations experiencing particular shortages;
  • Providers of training and development can use the results to help shape provision to need in their locality or their specialist areas;
  • The size of the survey enables particularly detailed geographical analysis, for example, by Local Enterprise Partnership in England.

This publication looks at survey results from across the country and breaks our results down by UK nation, sector, occupation, and size of establishment. Subsequent reports will follow, looking in detail at changes between results from earlier surveys reported for each of the four UK nations and the 2011 results.

Some of the findings from the report include:

  • Although only a small minority of businesses reported vacancies unfilled because of skill shortages, these vacancies impacted on the operation of the business through an increased workload for other staff and more direct impacts, such as delays in developing new products or difficulties meeting customer service objectives. The survey also finds concentrations of these difficulties in particular industries and occupations (such as Skilled Trade occupations), concentrations which have been reported in previous surveys;
  • Almost 1.5 million employees did not have the skills required to perform their job role. There are similar persistent pockets of concentration of these skills gaps, to which training is often a response;
  • Just over a half of employees (54%) received training in the previous year and this varied significantly between occupations, with 45% of those employed as managers receiving training compared to 70% of those employed in caring and leisure services
  • Around a quarter of establishments (24%) had recruited someone straight from education in the last 2-3 years and the majority of these were satisfied with the work-readiness of education leavers, rising with the age of the leaver

UKCESS 2011 Resources and underlying data

Please note that because of the complexity of harmonising surveys from the four UK nations, the 2011 UK Employer Skills Survey presents results in several versions. Information on how the tables compare with the evidence reports is provided below.

The nations:

If you would like access to the full SPSS dataset from UKCESS 2011, please email

We have also produced a series of webisode animations to highlight some of the key findings:

Episode 1: The scale and nature of employer investment in training


Episode 2: Business demands, skills supply: analysis of skills shortage vacancies and skills gaps across the UK


Episode 3: The youth employment challenge



The National Employer Skills Survey (NESS), 2003-2009

The National Employer Skills Survey for England (NESS) was a survey carried out biennially in England by the Learning and Skills Council.  In 2009, as part of continuity measures after machinery of government changes, the survey was taken over by the UK Commission. The survey covered many of the measures which have been transferred into the UK-wide survey.   These include recruitment and retention problems, demand for skills, skill gaps, workforce development and training, and business strategy and structure.

NESS 2003-2009 Resources

This table has links to the resources for each year NESS was produced:

NESS 2009 Key Findings report (PDF, 1.4 Mb)  Main report (PDF, 4.5 Mb)   Questionnaire (PDF, 865 Kb)  Cost of training questionnaire (PDF, 124 Kb) 
NESS 2007 Key Findings report (PDF, 465 Kb)   Main report  (PDF, 735 Kb)  Questionnaire (PDF, 735 Kb)   Cost of training questionnaire (PDF, 122 Kb) 
NESS 2005 Key Findings report (PDF, 936 Kb)  Main report  (PDF, 3.2 Mb)  Questionnaire (PDF, 709 Kb)  Cost of training questionnaire (PDF, 123 Kb)  
NESS 2004 Key Findings report (PDF, 1.7 Mb)  Main report (PDF, 3.6 Mb)  Questionnaire (PDF, 641 Kb)  n/a
NESS 2003 Key Findings report (PDF, 1.2 Mb)  Main report (PDF, 9.1 Mb)  Questionnaire (PDF, 551 Kb)  n/a


NESS 2003-2009 Underlying data

The Employer Surveys Data Tool allows all the historic NESS data to be analysed without the need for statistical software.   Previous NESS datasets are also available via the UK data archive.

  • Print this page