The latest figures released this week by the British Chambers of Commerce show the pressure on firms struggling to recruit staff remains at record high levels. The data for the leading business group’s Quarterly Recruitment Outlook survey for Q1 2022 was drawn from a survey of 5,500 businesses.
Attempted recruitment in Q1 was down slightly with 60 percent looking to recruit staff (64 percent in Q4). However, the proportion of firms reporting difficulties filling roles remains at a historical high at 78 percent, dropping just one percentage point from the previous quarter (79 percent).
The hospitality sector was facing the most challenging recruitment issues, with 85 percent, reporting difficulties, up from 83 percent in Q4 2021. This was closely followed by construction on 83 percent, logistics on 81 percent and manufacturers at 80 percent.
Retail and wholesale firms were the least likely to report difficulties at 69 percent but the proportions of firms that cannot find the staff they need remains worryingly high.
Views from Business
Firms reported a broad range of issues which contributed to the overall recruitment squeeze – this included disruption due to Covid and a drop in the availability of foreign staff. More firms are also reporting that wage competition is proving disruptive.
One medium-sized professional services firm in the West midlands reported: “We are finding it difficult to recruit all levels of staff. Applicants can choose between several employers as we are all chasing the same people. They feel we are on the edge of the Midlands but still expect Birmingham salaries.”
The owner of a small hospitality firm said: “We are prepared to pay more for the right people, but there just seems to be no one to employ. If we cannot get staff our service slips drastically because we don’t have enough people to serve our customers.”
It’s now harder than ever for businesses to fill job vacancies and there are no signs of improvement. In an increasingly tight labour market, competition for skills is ramping up wage costs, leaving many firms unable to recruit the people they need.
When combined with the escalating price of energy, shipping, raw materials and other costs, it is a precarious situation for businesses. Inevitably, it is the smaller firms, with little in the way of cash reserves after two years of the pandemic, who are most exposed to the risk all this presents.
The UK government needs to take concrete action to address labour shortages as they are a key factor in the economy’s stuttering recovery. If firms cannot get the people they need then productivity and revenue are two of the first casualties.
Government must also ensure that people can access rapid retraining opportunities for in-demand jobs at all skill levels in the workforce. At the same time, where there is clear evidence of national shortages damaging the economy, we need temporary visas for hard working people willing to come to the UK to work in the essential everyday roles that we all rely on.
Businesses are investing more in developing homegrown talent – and creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce – but this won’t solve pervasive skills shortages overnight. Right now, the priority must be to improve access to skills and ease the wider cost pressures facing business.
If you have any issues around recruitment or would like to join our HR, Employment and Skills Forum, please email Suzanne Quinn: email@example.com
Entries for the 2022 Staffordshire Chambers Business Awards close at 5pm on Friday 6th May.
Staffordshire Chambers Business awards are a great opportunity for you to spotlight your business and get recognition for your work during the last 12 months. Shortlisted businesses receive invaluable coverage in local press and across social media and will be invited to a gala evening celebration on 14th July. There are 15 award categories and one of the winners will also be crowned as overall Business of the Year.
Entry details and award categories and sponsors: www.staffordshirechambers.co.uk/awards
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