Survey shows skills shortages felt in all sectors

No business sector in the UK is now immune from recruitment difficulties and skills shortages, according to a new survey of more than 6,000 companies across the country.

Construction workers
The survey – the first 'Recruitment Outlook' to be published by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in partnership with the jobs site Totaljobs – found that while recruitment intentions were strong in the first quarter of the year, nearly three-quarters of firms seeking to take on new staff reported a shortage of suitable candidates.Claire Walker, co-executive director at the BCC, said that getting the UK’s skills system fit for purpose was a priority."The government must also ensure a low-cost, efficient and flexible immigration system that allows firms access to people of all skill levels when they are unable to recruit from local labour markets," she added.

Construction and hospitality sectors particularly affected

The survey found that half of business-to-business, and business-to-consumer companies had tried to find staff in the past quarter but that all sectors encountered problems, with construction and hospitality sectors particularly affected."Firms in the Midlands and the north of England are more likely to have attempted to recruit and expect their workforce to expand than firms in the south of England. The south also had the highest proportion of firms reporting recruitment difficulties (81 per cent), particularly at the professional/managerial level," said the BCC."While the labour market remains resilient, with employment levels standing at record highs, skills shortages are acting as a drag on business growth and potential."

Growth of jobs market outside the capital

Totaljobs recorded more than 900,000 jobs being advertised on its website in the first quarter of 2019. The company said the growth of the jobs market outside the capital was illustrated by the fact that, over the past two years, there had been a 39 per cent increase in job adverts in Manchester, 47 per cent in Birmingham and 33 per cent in Leeds.“The UK’s labour market has been performing strongly, despite the ongoing uncertainty in the economy," said Ms Walker."There is clearly an appetite among firms to grow their teams, but we’re seeing significant problems across the board with companies struggling to find the talent they need."

Skills shortage has worsened

Patrick Wehrmann, CEO of Totaljobs, added, “Just last year, employers told us that they believe Brexit will worsen the skills shortage. What is apparent is that continued uncertainty has done little to abate these concerns.“However, with over half of businesses looking to hire, the call to the UK’s workforce is clear. Regardless of the ongoing uncertainty, there is an opportunity to make professional strides, confidently approaching the search for a new job. “Positive trends in the north and the Midlands signal a continuation of the shrinking north-south divide, with cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham all reporting a thriving recruitment market. It seems as though the devolution of power, improved accessibility and increased investment has not only tapered decline in these areas but sparked a resurgence.”Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory