The UK’s workforce will have a 3.1m person shortfall by 2050 if skills shortages are not addressed. Teachers will be in shortest supply to fill teaching jobs, followed by construction workers and nurses

Work related emigration has risen 16% since 2007 while work related immigration has fallen 24%

The United Kingdom faces a shortfall of 128,000 teachers by 2050 due to skills shortages, an ageing workforce and restrictive migration policy, according to Randstad Education, the specialist recruiter.

The UK workforce as a whole will have a deficit of 3.1m by 2050, a figure which represents 9% of the required workforce. Using employment rates from the most recent European population analysis from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, as a measure of demand, parent company Randstad analysed the projected changes in UK population and working age rate for 2050 to establish the gap between employment demand and workforce supply.

The analysis showed that with a total population of 74.5m in 2050 the UK will require a working population of 35.4m to meet demand. However, will a pool of just 45.1m people (60.5% of the population) forecast to the eligible to work in 2050, even if the employment rate matches pre-downturn levels of 71.6%, an ageing population will leave the UK with only 32.3m people in employment – 3.1m short of the 35.4m required to meet demand.

Teachers in shortest supply

Randstad Education also forecast the workforce shortfall across key professions and found the education sector is likely to suffer the most. Teaching staff represented 4% of the UK workforce in 2008, assuming this proportion remains constant, by 2050, the UK will have a deficit of 127,500 teachers.

Jenny Rollinson, managing director of Randstad Education, said: “The Government has explored a number of different approaches to increasing quality teacher numbers from schemes to attract people from the private sector, to encouraging mum returners and early retirers back to the profession. Unfortunately, whilst these initiatives make some difference they can’t possibly combat the shortfall we are facing.

There has been a temptation in previous years to supplement qualified teaching staff with unqualified teaching assistants. This is not a trend that can continue if we want to ensure our classrooms have the very best people inspiring and leading our children to great things.”

Other sectors will also face large workforce shortfalls. In second place, construction with a predicted 66,800 gap and in third place the health care sector facing a 61,200 shortage.

Profession - Projected Shortfall (2050)

  • Teachers - 128,000
  • Construction - 66,800
  • Nurses - 61,200
  • Qualified Engineers - 36,800
  • IT and Tech - 33,300
  • Social Workers - 10,600
  • Qualified Accountants -10,200
  • Solicitors/Lawyers - 9,500

The UK is suffering skills shortages across many sectors with migration one of the key reasons for the deficiency. Since 2007, work related emigration from the UK has risen 16% while work related immigration has fallen 24% over the same period. The combination of poor economic performance and changes to immigration policy have made the UK a less attractive place to work among the world’s most talented professionals and trades people. What's more, pay expectations for newly qualified teachers are attractive in the UK.

"UK teachers have always been viewed as the absolute elite"

Jenny Rollinson adds: “We know from our international recruitment offering, Teachanywhere, UK teachers have always been viewed as the absolute elite and packages abroad have long been enticing. However, teachers now have so many more global opportunities to explore.

Ten years ago it was the traditional geographies of Asia-Pac and the Middle East that held sway, today desire to import talented UK teachers is truly global. In the last year alone we've been asked to recruit over 100 teachers for Kazakhstan, in the former Soviet Republic. It can be tempting to think who would go there? But packages are attractive and more importantly the teaching environment is excellent. Kazakhstan is investing heavily in their education sector, and already has a literacy rate well above that of the US, UK and Ireland.

This commitment to the classroom carries immense appeal for UK teachers. Whilst many of these teachers and those going to other destinations do return to the UK bringing back valuable insight and experience, the number remaining abroad is slowly rising.”

For queries on the data methodology and/or sources please contact our press department.