UK firms still struggling to hire the right skills

Following the release of the latest quarterly outlook report on recruitment, David Sapsted reports on the labour shortages in the UK and how this may be remedied in the future.

UK firms are still struggling to hire the right skills
The recruitment intentions of British companies strengthened in the second quarter of the year, according to the latest Recruitment Outlook report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and job site Totaljobs.And while difficulties finding suitable staff eased slightly over the quarter, problems remained high by historic standards, with 64% of businesses reporting difficulties in finding the right people.

Critical staffing levels in certain sectors

The survey found that 60% of UK businesses attempted to recruit staff in the second quarter, up from 53% in the first three months of the year. Additionally, 30% of companies expected to increase their workforces in the current quarter.Based on the responses from more than 6,500 businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, the report said that problems finding suitable staff were at “critical” levels in construction and hotels and catering. “The jobs market is showing its resilience, despite sluggish economic growth and ongoing uncertainty. However, the current scale of labour shortages can’t be sustained in the long-term,” said the BCC. “The fall in hiring difficulties this quarter is encouraging, but to achieve a prolonged decrease, the new government must put reform of the skills and training system at the top of its agenda.“The BCC wants to see a coherent and long-term plan to stabilise the skills system, and for those struggling to hire locally, an efficient and cost-effective route to recruiting overseas workers at all skills levels."

Working to solve the UK labour skills gap

Claire Walker, co-executive director at the BCC said that the jobs market remained a positive force in an economy facing sluggish growth and political uncertainty. “Demand for seasonal workers, many of whom have traditionally come from the European Union, highlights the importance of the new government quickly setting out a sensible post-Brexit immigration policy, that reflects the needs of different sectors and regions in the UK,” she said.“The solution to plugging the UK’s skills gap in the long-term includes reforming the skills education and training system, and giving it time to bed in. We look forward to working with the new administration to get the system working better for everyone and ensuring firms can access the skills they need to improve growth and productivity.”Patrick Wehrmann, CEO of Totaljobs, added, “The labour market continues to weather economic uncertainty, with the vast majority of businesses showing a continued commitment to maintaining or increasing staff headcount. In fact, just 7% of employers expect their workforce to decrease as we head into Q3. “As employers look to attract their next hire, there is an opportunity for people possessing in-demand skills to make significant progress in their career and begin to realise their earning potential.”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