Austen Shakespeare

Firms struggling to recruit staff reach record levels

New figures released today by the British Chambers of Commerce saw the proportion of firms struggling to recruit staff reach new record levels.

The data for the leading business group’s Quarterly Recruitment Outlook survey for Q4 2021 was drawn from a survey of over 5,400 businesses.

Attempted recruitment in Q4 was up on previous quarters with 64 per cent overall attempting to recruit staff (61 per cent in Q3). However, the proportion of firms reporting difficulties filling roles reached a historical high at 79 per cent, up from 77 per cent in the previous quarter.

In both the construction and hospitality sectors the proportion reporting difficulties was 83 per cent, making them the most likely to report issues. Marketing and media firms were the least likely to report difficulties at 70 per cent but this remains a high proportion for these sectors historically.

Firms reported a broad range of issues which contributed to the overall recruitment squeeze – this included disruption due to Covid and a drop in the availability of foreign staff.

Head of people policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, Jane Gratton said:  “Once again, the results highlight the ongoing difficulties employers are facing in accessing skills and labour and the risk to our economic recovery.

“The record level of firms struggling to fill job vacancies in the quarter will have impacted on businesses’ ability to meet demand for goods and services - adding to already accute supply chain pressures.

“And now, as the Omicron variant begins to increase staff absences again, many firms could see any growth and recovery they have made slip back to first base.

Jane continued: “More business investment in home grown talent - and creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce - is key to solving pervasive skills shortages, but this won’t happen overnight.

“Burdened with high levels of debt, escalating wage and input costs, damaged cashflow and an uncertain economic environment, employers need help to get back on their feet.

“The government must do all it can to ensure people can access rapid retraining opportunities for in-demand jobs, issue temporary visas for lower skilled jobs - where there is clear evidence of a national shortage - and ensure there are no further upfront costs on business for the remainder of this parliament.”

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