ACTION is required to stem a UK-wide skills crisis, warns new research.

Three quarters of British businesses believe a significant skills crisis will hit the UK within the next three years, while two-fifths predict this will happen inside 12 months.

Two-thirds fear it will slam the brakes on the UK's economic recovery.

According to the Prince’s Trust and HSBC report, based on interviews with 616 UK business leaders, 72 per cent believe that the recruitment of young people into the workforce is vital to avert a crisis.

The research reveals that more than two-fifths are already experiencing skills gaps within their organisations and over half are currently facing difficulties filling vacancies.

The Prince’s Trust is calling on employers to invest in vocational training for unemployed young people to avoid future skills shortages.

Martina Milburn, chief executive of the trust, said: “It is deeply concerning that employers are struggling to fill vacancies when we have hundreds of thousands of unemployed young people desperate for work. The current economic recovery is encouraging, but in order to sustain this growth, UK plc needs to invest in the next generation to avoid a skills vacuum in the future, which threatens to hamper economic growth.

"We are urging businesses to take action now to up-skill the workforce of the future to prevent the bubbling skills crisis from boiling over.”

Antonio Simoes, chief executive officer of HSBC UK, said: “It is essential that we invest in young people now and equip them with the skills that both they and British businesses need to thrive. As a major UK employer, we are committed to supporting the economic recovery and tackling youth unemployment. We are proud that our partnership with the Prince’s Trust is helping the next generation move into the workplace with the skills that they need to make a success of themselves and the UK economy.”

The Prince’s Trust aims to help 58,000 unemployed young people this year, providing vocational training in sectors with identified skills shortages such as construction, retail and logistics.

It has supported more than 750,000 young people since being set up by the Prince of Wales in 1976. Three in four young people supported by the trust move into work, education or training.