Employers see skills shortages ahead as demand for talent rises according to the REC's jobs report

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Latest Figures Show UK Unemployment Has Risen Above 2 Million
Demand for staff has risen to its highest point since 2011 (Source: Getty)

Demand for staff in Britain has reached its highest point in 18 months as concerns over skills shortage rise for employers, a new survey of recruiters shows.

Job vacancies rose to their highest point since mid-2015, according to an index collected by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), continuing a strong recovery since dipping after the Brexit vote.

The index rose from lows of 55.5 in August to reach 63.1 in February, its highest point since August 2015, the REC said.

While the number of permanent appointments also increased to the highest point in a year, the need for qualified staff at a time of historically high employment levels is rapidly rising up employers’ concerns.

Read more: Record-breaking employment numbers threatened by government short-termism

Kevin Green, REC chief executive, said: “Businesses across the UK are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit for permanent roles. The big question still remains about how employers will fill their vacancies.”

Engineering firms face particular competition for the best staff, followed by IT and computer staff and workers in the medical and care sector.

The UK’s employment rate currently stands at its highest level on record, with 74.6 per cent of working age adults in a job, while unemployment remains at an 11-year low.

A similar rise in demand for staff is evident in London. Job vacancies in the capital actually fell in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, but since September the index of staff demand has risen from below 50 to a reading of 63.1. A reading above 50 indicates growing demand.

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Skills improvement is a perennial concern for governments, and the current administration has trailed a new push to boost technical education. The chancellor expected to announce “T level” training in the Budget today, although that will be cold comfort for businesses struggling to find qualified workers in the near future.

Green said: “The chancellor is expected to announce a boost for vocational training in today’s budget and this is very welcome. However, it won’t solve the immediate need for people to fill jobs. We’re already seeing acute staff shortages in a variety of sectors, from healthcare to engineering.”

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