The UK has one of the worst "talent mismatches'" in Europe, raising the risk of slower economic growth and lost opportunity for British people and businesses, according to recruitment firm Hays Group.

The Hays Global Skills Index 2014, produced in collaboration with Oxford Economics, found that the gap between skills that people can offer and those which UK employers are seeking, increased again this year.

The research, based on an analysis of professional employment markets across 31 major global economies, revealed that the UK's "talent mismatch" scored 9.6 out of 10.

According to Hays, a higher score indicates that businesses are facing a serious problem in matching unemployed candidates with available jobs. A lower score suggests employers are having an easier time finding workers with the skills they need.

"The UK's chronic skills shortage is one of the biggest threats to our nation's future prospects," said Alistair Cox, the chief executive of the Hays Group.

"If this talent mismatch continues to rise at the current rate as the economy improves, we will reach crisis point in a matter of months.

"There is no miracle cure for the issue but in the lead-up to a General Election we have to start by acknowledging the problems."

In contrast, Germany – Europe's largest economy – scored 3.3 in the index and France scored 5.9.

Hays explained that this growing "talent mismatch" is starting to lead to further pressure on wages in highly skilled niche occupations.

The recruitment firm warned that Britain's long-term economic future depends on a broad range of infrastructure upgrades, including high-speed rail, toll motorways, and better energy infrastructure.

These projects, including Crossrail, HS2 (High Spped 2), could be jeopardised by skills shortages.