New research shows that firms are facing increasing problems with staffing, especially in areas such as the hotel business and catering.
The UK Chambers of Commerce said their survey, which involved more than 5,600 companies, found that most of them in manufacturing and services reported record-high recruitment challenges.
More than nine out of 10 employers in the hospitality and catering industry are having difficulty finding staff.
Adrian Hanrahan, CEO of Robinson Brothers, a chemical company in West Bromwich, which employs 260 people but currently has more than 20 vacancies, said: “We have recruitment issues, I have never had anything like this.
“What we are struggling with is attracting people to full-time positions, and this has been going on for some time.
“It includes everything from engineering and maintenance to research, customer service and manufacturers.
“This is a real challenge. We raised the salary and still can’t find it, but we’re a family business and we have limits.
“Before Brexit and before Covid we always had one or two vacancies, but this scale is unprecedented. Everyone is looking for people.”
Jane Greton of the British Chamber of Commerce said: “It is clear that staff shortages are exacerbating, affecting the recovery and growth of manufacturers and service businesses.
“Difficulties in recruitment mean that vacancies remain unfilled and firms have difficulty maintaining normal operations. While employers are investing more in training, apprenticeships and flexible work practices, this will not improve the situation overnight.
“We need government assistance to provide a more flexible skills system, rapid retraining opportunities and targeted immigration initiatives to fill gaps in skills and manpower.
“Pressure on wages and energy prices is also increasing aggregate costs, and there is a limit to how much more can be absorbed before firms are forced to go out of business.
“If no action is taken to address the installation problems identified by these data, businesses will also face extreme difficulties in meeting demand, and consumers will see a further reduction in the goods and services available to them,” he said.
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