London businesses urge easier access to overseas skills

London businesses have been boosted by recovering domestic sales and exports during the second quarter of the year but too many are still facing recruitment challenges, according to a new survey.

Map of London illustration

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry survey

The CEO of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), which conducted the quarterly survey among 500 businesses in the capital, said the situation proved the necessity for a post-Brexit immigration system that would enable companies "to find well-trained and capable staff" they badly needed.  The survey found that sales and exports indices were up, and all business confidence indicators also increased over the quarter - the first time this has happened for a year - with expectations for wider economic growth also improving, while still remaining modest.

Talent shortages challenging business

"However, with unemployment at its lowest levels since the 1970s, London’s recruitment market remained challenging during Q2 for businesses and workers," said LCCI.The survey showed that 23 per cent of London businesses trained up an existing staff member in order to acquire new skills while 82 per cent did not attempt to recruit during the second quarter despite the fact that almost two-thirds were  operating below full capacity.Of those businesses in the capital that did try to hire new skills, 61 per cent encountered difficulties finding the talent they needed.David Frost, LCCI chief executive, said: “Most businesses looking to hire staff still face difficulties when doing so, with firms often concerned at certain skills deficits within London’s labour market."Around a quarter of businesses turned to investing in their existing staff during the second quarter of the year, in order to cover skills gaps. That is welcome but illustrates how tight London’s labour market is.

Post-Brexit immigration policy must allow businesses to employ capable staff

“After Brexit, it will be important that the UK’s immigration policy is well-designed so that firms can continue to find well-trained and capable staff.  We at LCCI have concerns about the proposed £30,000 salary threshold and welcome signals this may be reconsidered by the next government. It is also vital that our domestic skills system is working as effectively as possible.”Figures from the survey also showed that business costs had also proved a challenge to the capital’s businesses over Q2 with almost half reporting increased fuel costs and 31 per cent seeing an increase in the cost of raw materials sourced domestically with 27 per cent reporting a rise for stock sourced internationally.One in five businesses said they were under pressure to raise prices due to increased raw material prices or finance costs.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