The shortage of skilled workers is reaching “critical levels”, with huge numbers of firms finding it difficult to recruit suitably qualified staff, the British Chambers of Commerce has warned.
Research by the BCC found that seven out of 10 companies in the services sector hiring staff reported recruitment difficulties, the highest on record.
A survey of 7,000 businesses showed that the percentage of manufacturers attempting to recruit in the last three months fell by five per cent to two thirds.
Of those, three out of four had problems, especially among skilled manual labour.
Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said: “While there are many business bright spots across the UK, the evidence from the biggest private business survey in the country shows that growth and confidence remain subdued overall as we enter a new year.
“Labour and skills shortages are set to be the biggest potential drag anchor on business in 2018, since ultimately it is people that make businesses work.
“Business itself must do more, by training and investing wherever possible in people, but Government must also give firms the confidence to put their livelihoods on the line and go for growth.
“This must be the year employers act rather than just complain on skills, and the year Government delivers clarity, leadership and investment in people and infrastructure. Kick-starting growth, and boosting wages and prosperity for all, depends on this.”
The survey showed that economic growth remains “subdued”, with domestic sales, job expectations and recruitment lower in the final three months of 2017 than the previous quarter.
Other findings included an increase in the percentage of manufacturers expecting their prices to increase – up from 35 per cent to 50 per cent – and fewer companies confident that their turnover will increase this year.
Source – Insider.co.uk