Two thirds (66%) of UK employees have said they have had no training or professional development since January 2020, despite the pandemic forcing many businesses change how they operate.

Research conducted by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) found that the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the UKs employability skills gap enough to potentially hinder the country’s long-term recovery. The situation could also be made worse with the end of the Brexit transition period looming, as employers lose access to the EU-wide talent pool.

According to CIMA’s annual Mind the Skills Gap report, two thirds (65%) of UK SMEs said that the pandemic has highlighted skills gaps within their organisation. Within this group, nearly 95% believe these skills gaps are significant enough to hamper their organisations future growth and success.

The most common skills gaps highlighted by the report relate to digital skills (42%), health and safety (37%), and people management and leadership skills (33%).

CIMA chief executive, management accounting, Andrew Harding said: “To be successful in both the post-Brexit and COVID-19 world, the UK must change its attitudes to workplace learning or risk being left behind.

“Results from our 2020 Mind the Skills Gap research show a clear mismatch between the skills employers say they need, and the amount of skills training employees say they have had. This time however, under the current economic circumstances, the stakes are higher for business.

“If we are to meet the future skills challenge needed for a post-Brexit Britain and equip our workforce with the skills they to thrive in the future world of work, we need to better support all workers to reskill and help them and businesses adapt to be being both resilient and competitive.”

On a more positive note, 67% of UK SMEs said they had accelerated their organisation’s digital transformation as a direct result of the pandemic. Within this group, 78% believe their current workforce has the right skills to support their organisation’s digital transformation. However, 78% of these same SMEs also identified significant skills gap in their organisation due to the pandemic.