Skills shortages are costing UK businesses £2bn a year

Emma Haslett
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The UK's employers are struggling to fill roles (Source: Getty)

Difficulties recruiting the right people at the right time is costing businesses £2.2bn a year, new research has warned - and uncertainty around Brexit is making things worse.

Research by the Open University found 90 per cent of employers have had trouble recruiting people with the right skills in the last year.

With UK unemployment at a record low and uncertainty around Brexit putting pressure on workers' finances, the research suggested people are becoming increasingly unwilling to change jobs.

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Wage hikes all round

In fact, the problem has become so bad, businesses have been forced to inflate salaries to the tune of £527m to attract new recruits, while employers said they have spent £1.7bn on recruitment fees as they desperately searched for the right people to fill vacancies. That's despite figures published last month showing real wages falling at their fastest in three years.

More than half of firms said they had been forced to increase the salary to "well above market rate" to attract the right person to a role, with small firms saying they had increased salaries by an average of £4,150 above market rate, while larger firms said they added £5,575 to the average salary in order to attract the right person.

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Skills shortage

A fifth said they had struggled to hire both senior managers and mid-level managers, while just over 40 per cent said candidates tended to lack of management skills. Meanwhile, just under half said they had trouble finding people with the right IT skills.

Some 53 per cent said they had so much trouble finding someone with the right skills, they chose to hire someone at a lower level instead, with another 53 per cent said they invested the extra cash in training their new hires.

Steve Hill, external engagement director at The Open University, said unpredictability around Brexit was making the situation worse.

The UK challenge of finding talent with the right skills means that businesses need to look at recruitment, development and retention differently.

"Now faced with a shrinking talent pool, exacerbated by the uncertainties of Brexit, it is more important that employers invest in developing their workforce."

Read more: More than half of skilled workers may leave UK before Brexit

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