Report highlights UK staff shortage woes

More than three-quarters of British companies that attempted to recruit staff in the third quarter of the year reported difficulties in finding candidates with the right skills, according to a new survey.

Empty reception lobby
The latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that half of firms reported difficulties in hiring skilled technical staff, while 45% had problems filling managerial roles and 34% were short of candidates for unskilled or semi-skilled jobs.In response, the BCC is calling on the government to add more roles to the Shortage Occupation List, which would make it easier for overseas workers with specific skills to migrate to the UK, and for more short-term visas to be introduced for less skilled staff.
Related reading from Relocate Global

'More flexible skills system' needed

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the BCC, said, “It's clear that staff shortages are worsening, impacting on recovery and growth for manufacturers and services businesses alike."Recruitment difficulties mean vacancies are left unfilled and firms are struggling to maintain normal operations."While employers are investing more in training, apprenticeships and flexible working practices, this will not improve things overnight.“Right now, we need government help to provide a more flexible skills system, rapid retraining opportunities and targeted immigration initiatives to plug skills and labour gaps."

Record-breaking recruitment

The report found that 61% of firms surveyed attempted to recruit in Q3 – one of the highest percentages since records began – and 77% of those reported difficulties in finding staff.In the hospitality sector, more than nine out of ten companies said they were facing recruitment difficulties, while three-quarters of service sector firms said likewise. Both represented the highest figures since BCC began compiling the data in 1997.The report quoted Adrian Hanrahan, the Managing Director of chemical manufacturing company Robinson Brothers in West Bromwich, which has a workforce of 260, but currently has a vacancy rate approaching ten per cent."I have never had anything like it before," said Adrian Hanrahan. "What we are struggling with is getting people in full-time posts, and this has been going on for some time.“It includes everything from engineering and maintenance to research, customer services and production operators. It is skilled and non-skilled roles. It is a real challenge. We have raised our salaries and we still cannot find them, but we are a family business and there are limits to what we can do“Pre-Brexit and pre-Covid we always had one or two vacancies, but this current scale is unprecedented. Everyone is looking for people.”

Short-term visas for hardest hit sectors

The BCC's Jane Gratton said that while companies welcomed the government's establishment of a Supply Chain Taskforce, led by Sir David Lewis, to investigate labour shortages, she said it needed to move quickly to implement solutions."Measures we would support include issuing adequate numbers of short-term visas for sectors facing acute shortages and adding more roles to the Shortage Occupation List," Jane Gratton said.“If action is not taken to address the mounting problems revealed by these data, then businesses will also face extreme difficulty in meeting demand and consumers will see further reductions in the goods and services available to them as we progress into winter.”

Read more news and views from David Sapsted

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 Directory

Related Articles