Lord Hunt warns against complacency as credit crunch bites

The Chartered Insurance Institute's (CII) second annual skills survey has revealed a worsening skills shortage in the financial services sector. Three quarters of employers surveyed reported shortages of technical skills - up 5 per cent on last year.

In a statement the CII said: "The issue has become so critical that it is now on the agenda in four out of five boardrooms which represents a huge increase of 20 per cent on 2007."

Over half the employers (57 per cent) accused the education system of failing to meet the needs of the industry with only 3 per cent describing basic levels of education as "more than adequate".

These findings coincide with an increase of 14 per cent to 73 per cent of employers who believe that employees will need higher qualifications in the future.

In response to the findings CII President Lord Hunt said: "The results of this survey provide a wake up call, if indeed one was needed, that we all need to play an active part in raising skill levels. The increase in those reporting skills gaps is a particular worry.

"In this period of economic instability it is vital that we do not take our eye off the skills issue, tempting though that may be. Cuts to training budgets in order to make a quick saving will in the end prove to be a false economy.

"The UK financial services industry is world renowned for its commitment to improving the skill levels of its staff. Yet we cannot be complacent and must continue to commit time and resources to training and development if we are to remain competitive in the face of intense global competition."