ComputersA worsening skills shortage is threatening growth in the UK service sector, the latest CBI service sector survey suggests.

While demand for hotels, leisure and professional services is high in the run-up to Christmas, this has not fostered the buoyant levels of confidence seen earlier in 2014, the quarterly report reveals.

Vigorous growth at the beginning of the year faltered in the summer, hit hard by October’s stock market slump, which was prompted by anxieties about falling demand in the eurozone and indicators that a stuttering world economy would hamper growth.

The survey is far from a doom and gloom story, however, as it concludes that overall growth in the sector is guaranteed following a lengthy period of expansion and encouraging increases in employment.

39% of the firms polled said that headcounts had grown, while 11% reported falling employment, leaving a net balance of +28%. This is well up on the meagre +5% reported in the previous quarter and expectations for the coming quarter remain robust at +25%.

Umbrella Company Employees, especially those specialising in the field of IT contracting, may well find plenty of opportunities opening up for them in the sector as a skills shortage begins to bite.

The CBI’s director for economics, Rain Newton-Smith, said: “Growth across the services sector is expected to continue into the New Year. And it’s good to see investment spending in IT at near record levels. But skills shortages are starting to bite, putting more of a brake on investment and future growth in consumer services; therefore, the spending rise in training in the sector is particularly encouraging.”





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