Majority of UK Firms Struggling to Recruit

New figures from the British Chambers of Commerce show that 70% of firms looking to hire staff during the last quarter had difficulty in recruiting candidates.  The sectors most affected were:

  • Construction, with 82% of recruiting firms struggling to find candidates;
  • Production & manufacturing with at 68% reporting difficulties;
  • Consumer services firms were the least likely to report difficulties, but even so 61% had problems recruiting.

High proportions of respondents from construction and production & manufacturing firms both expressed difficulty in filling skilled technical roles, 65% and 62% respectively.  However, 42% of production & manufacturing respondents also expressed difficulty filling un-skilled roles, while 53% of construction firms said the same of managerial roles.

Amongst retail firms 43% cited issues with skilled roles, 39% with managerial jobs and 35% with un-skilled roles.  For professional services and marketing & media firms the difficulties were overwhelmingly with managerial roles, cited by 69% and 60% respectively.  This is exacerbated by the fact that people already in permanent roles are currently less likely to change employer as previously reported with “last in, first out” fears affecting their perceived security.

In addition, the impact of staff shortages is starting to bite in other ways.  The British Growers Association has warned that there is a real prospect of food shortages in supermarkets because the lack of labour has left crops rotting in fields.  The sector is suffering due to a lack of UK-based workers, alongside issues with international labourers being granted British permits.

Whatever the reason for worker shortages, it seems that the current issue is set to continue for many parts of the economy.  It is certainly positive that job opportunities are available, however in the context of the pandemic many people have re-evaluated their priorities and flexible working is going to be paramount for many.  Also, many furloughed workers have pursued new ways of working which better suit their new priorities, and are less likely to go back to previous roles – this is particularly the case within hospitality and retail.


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