Monday 29 July 2019 12:45 am

UK firms keen to hire but skills shortages a problem

In the second quarter of the year 60 per cent of British firms tried to hire new employees, according to a new survey, in the latest sign of strength in the job market.

Read more: UK unemployment stays at 54-year low as wages tick up

Meanwhile, 30 per cent of employers said they expect to increase their workforce in the next three months, a report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and jobs website Totaljobs showed today.

The survey came as unemployment in Britain is at a 45-year low of 3.8 per cent, helping real wages grow by 1.7 per cent in the three months to the end of May.

Employment and consumer spending have been the bright spots in a slowing economy in recent months. 

Many analysts have predicted that a tough global environment and Brexit uncertainty will have brought economic growth to a halt in the second quarter of the year.

The latest recruitment outlook report from the BCC, which represents over 50 chambers from around the country, showed that low unemployment meant 64 per cent of employers struggled to find the right people for their openings in the second quarter.

In sectors such as construction and hotels and catering the shortages were at “critical levels,” the BCC said. In construction 77 per cent of employers reported difficulties in recruiting, while in hotels and catering the figure was 74 per cent.

A large number of workers in these seasonal sectors have traditionally come from the European Union. Claire Walker, co-executive director of the BCC, said this “highlights the importance of the new government quickly setting out a sensible post-Brexit immigration policy”.

The BCC also urged the government to address the skill shortages among the UK population.

Read more: Real wages rise as UK inflation stays at two per cent

It said Britain needs “a coherent and long-term plan to stabilise the skills system, and for those struggling to hire locally, an efficient and cost-effective route to recruiting overseas workers at all skills levels”.