Nine out of ten hotel and catering firms struggled to recruit in the third quarter, as hospitality bosses have called for government intervention.
Pub bosses are struggling to find chefs while nightclubs have found it hard to recruit door staff.
There have been calls in the hospitality sector for a Covid Recovery Visa to help businesses fill vacancies with overseas workers as they recover from pandemic measures.
Six in ten firms overall attempted to recruit in the quarter, the highest since the same period in 2018, according to the British Chambers of Commerce.
Some 92 per cent of firms in the hotels and catering sector reported difficulties, while 75 per cent of service sector firms said likewise, both the highest response rates on record since the dataset began in 1997.
Some 80 per cent of manufacturers reported recruitment issues, just one percentage point away from the all-time high for this indicator.
Bosses have called for a more flexible system, with speedy training schemes and focused immigration policies.
Head of people policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, Jane Gratton said: “It’s clear that staff shortages are worsening, impacting on recovery and growth for manufacturers and services businesses alike.
Employer investment in training and apprenticeships would “not improve things overnight,” she said.