British businesses experiencing recruitment difficulties

A new report has found that many British businesses are actively looking to hire more workers but are struggling to find the right staff.

The report, carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in partnership with Totaljobs, reveals that Brexit is largely responsible for making it harder for British businesses in all sectors to find suitably skilled staff.

Over half (53 per cent) of the British businesses surveyed said they had actively attempted to hire people in the first quarter of the year. However, of these businesses 73 per cent have struggled to find the right staff.

According to the findings, 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 British businesses reporting recruitment difficulties (81 per cent), particularly at the professional/managerial level.

Over 900,000 jobs have been advertised on Totaljobs in the first three months of 2019, signalling confidence among employers across the UK. However, skills shortages are acting as a drag on business growth and potential. As the report highlights, labour shortages are affecting firms of all industries and locations across the UK.

Both BCC and Totaljobs believe that Brexit has been a distraction for both government and business for too long, and now is the time for a renewed focus on improving the UK’s training system as well as supporting firms to invest in people and training. In addition, the leading business group is also calling for the government to ensure its future migration system allows for access to people at all skills levels without heavy costs or bureaucracy.

“For too long, Brexit has been sucking all the oxygen out of the UK’s domestic agenda, with Westminster, Whitehall and business communities all focused on planning and preparing for different scenarios,” explained Claire Walker, Co-Executive director at the British Chambers of Commerce. “The necessary attention to skills and training just hasn’t been there. Now is the time to correct that.

“Getting the UK’s skills system fit for purpose, reforming the apprenticeship levy, and unlocking untapped segments of the labour market will help deliver a pipeline of talent that companies are so hungry for. 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,” Walker added.

Article published 15th May 2019