New report suggest UK skills shortages set to continue

The latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with Totaljobs, has revealed continued skills shortages in the UK.

While over half of UK firms (55 per cent) were looking to hire, the report revealed that 72 per cent of businesses had difficulty finding the right talent.

The figures illustrate a critical skills deficit across the UK workforce, with shortages most apparent in the construction and hospitality sectors, with 79 per cent and 77 per cent respectively struggling to recruit.

Two thirds (67 per cent) of construction businesses attempted to recruit in the fourth quarter of 2019, up from 62 per cent in the third quarters. In both these sectors – and others – uncertainty over the UK’s future immigration regime continues to be a concern.

“As the UK forms new economic relationships with the EU and partners across the world, businesses also need clarity on who they can recruit. As things stand, businesses don’t know who they can hire, and under what conditions,” said Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chamber of Commerce.

“As things stand, businesses don’t know who they can hire, and under what conditions, from New Year’s Day 2021. That’s unacceptable. The Government needs to act swiftly to deliver a fast, flexible new immigration system that allows firms to access staff at all skill levels, and limits upfront fees, delays and costly red tape.”

Looking ahead, 26 per cent of UK firms say they plan to increase their workforce in the first quarter of 2020. The construction industry reports the highest proportion of firms looking to grow their headcount (34 per cent).

The report’s findings highlight the need to address critical skills shortages in the upcoming Budget, including commitments to long-term funding for vocational education and for apprenticeships in small and medium-sized businesses – both of which are crucial to the government’s ambition to ‘level up’ opportunities across the UK.

Article published 4th February 2020