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UK employers struggling to unlock full potential of talent

Employers feel unprepared for how AI might affect their business.

Content Insights

67% expect AI to impact their roles.
Poor workforce planning cited as a significant barrier to growth.
Kelly specialises in recruiting and managing skilled workers.

Table of Contents




A recent survey by specialty talent solutions provider Kelly highlights that UK businesses are struggling to fully unlock the potential of their employees, with poor workforce planning cited as a significant barrier to growth.

The survey, conducted across 13 countries, reveals that UK businesses face the greatest challenges in recruiting specialised talent and developing their existing workforce. Kelly’s fourth annual global workforce report, titled “Building a Resilient Workforce in the Age of AI,” shows that more than half of senior executives in the UK (51%) feel they are not maximising their workforce’s potential, and 52% believe that inadequate workforce planning is hindering business growth. Additionally, 43% of executives report missing business opportunities due to a lack of talent.

Only 29% of UK executives express confidence in recruiting talent with technical or highly sought-after skills, the lowest among the surveyed countries. In contrast, 67% of German executives report confidence in their ability to recruit specialized talent.

The survey also points out that UK businesses lack adequate training programs to address these challenges. UK workers identify insufficient skills development (29%) and limited career progression opportunities (25%) as their top frustrations. They are among the least likely to believe their teams possess the necessary skills and capabilities to meet their objectives.

UK executives are the most likely to cite insufficient development opportunities as a reason for employee turnover, with 32% expressing this concern.

Businesses in the UK are least confident in their ability to recruit specialised talent.

Adelle Harrington, Vice President, EMEA, at KellyOCG, commented: “These findings are eye-opening. They stress the importance of developing long-term workforce strategies that focus on the right mix of permanent and contingent workers, effective skills development, and employee engagement.”

The report also highlights the impact of AI on the talent landscape. Although many employees recognise the impending changes, only 38% have received AI-related training, and 67% expect AI to impact their roles. While 37% feel positive about this change, 62% have negative or mixed feelings.

Organisations need to provide clarity on how AI will be implemented and train employees to use it effectively. Only then will the workforce feel prepared to face the future confidently.

Despite these challenges, the survey identifies some positive trends. UK executives are most likely to prioritise improving employee wellbeing (35%), with 55% noting an increase in wellbeing support compared to the previous year. Additionally, UK businesses are the least likely to mandate onsite work (43%) and are confident in their ability to enhance diversity, inclusion, and belonging (63%). Furthermore, 58% of UK executives describe their workforce as “highly resilient.”

While the report underscores the strengths of UK employers, it also highlights the need for better support in recruiting, maintaining, and nurturing talent to drive business growth.

Kelly specialises in recruiting and managing skilled workers, helping job seekers find meaningful work. Since its inception in 1946, Kelly has become an expert in various industries and markets, connecting job seekers worldwide with opportunities.


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