New research from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has found that British companies wish to recruit more staff but are unable to find the right talent.
The BCC consulted 7,300 UK businesses for its survey and discovered that the number of employers seeking new staff rose by nine per cent on the previous quarter. However, most hirers are encountering “high levels of recruitment difficulties,” a factor that the BCC believes poses a threat to growth.
The survey, which is produced on a quarterly basis, also found that “confidence in turnover and profitability is improving.” Overall, 86 per cent of manufacturing companies and 59 per cent of services companies wish to appoint new staff, representing quarter-on-quarter increases of nine and six per cent respectively.
However, despite robust hiring intentions, 74 per cent of manufacturing businesses and 58 per cent of services businesses report that they are struggling to source the staff that they need.
In an interview with BBC News, the BCC’s Head of Economics, Suren Thiru, confirmed that the main obstacle for these businesses is sourcing enough new recruits with the right skills in the context of an aging existing workforce.
Simultaneously, many of the companies polled reported rising business costs, which are serving to deter them from additional investment, including investment in staff training. Business spending has also been squeezed, Mr Thiru noted, by increases in the cost of imported raw materials, which rose in the aftermath of the Brexit vote due to the resultant weakness of the pound.
A Government spokesman told BBC News that since the Brexit vote, the British economy has demonstrated sustained momentum, and businesses are continuing to invest in major sectors such as manufacturing and services.
He added: “We know that businesses need a highly skilled workforce to attract the right people for the right jobs, and we are helping to deliver this through initiatives like our modern Industrial Strategy, our £500m annual investment in technical education and the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.”
Meanwhile, a separate survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that confidence among smaller companies has climbed to its highest point in more than a year, even though business costs have been spiralling. Confidence for the first quarter of 2017 stood at 20.0, the highest score since the final quarter of 2015.
With confidence growing and the availability of sufficiently qualified candidates for permanent roles dwindling, these studies indicate that businesses are likely to turn to hiring skilled Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals. The flexibility of these contingent professionals enables them to fulfil business-critical projects and manage fluctuations in demand on an as-and-when-needed basis.