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Half of UK businesses have faced skills or labour shortages

Staff Writer |
Half of UK businesses have faced skills or labour shortages in the last year, but only a minority are actively looking overseas to fill vacancies, according to a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in partnership with Middlesex University London.

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The annual workforce survey, based on the responses of over 1,400 business people, found that 48% of firms had faced skills or labour shortages over the last twelve months.

Of these, most sought to address the shortages by increasing investment in recruitment (35%), training (31%) and, pay and benefits (29%). The survey found that only 8% of businesses target recruitment of non-UK nationals overseas.

According to the findings of the survey, two-in-five (40%) UK businesses have employees from other EU countries on their workforce, while 23% have employees from outside the EU.

38% of businesses say future restrictions on the rights of EU nationals to work in the UK would have a negative impact on their business.

The results challenge the myth that UK firms are ignoring local workers in favour of overseas labour. With a softening economy and slowing immigration, the BCC is calling for action to ensure business growth isn’t hampered by labour shortages.

Business communities need the government to provide clarity on the process for hiring EU nationals during and after the Brexit process, and to ensure the UK’s future immigration system is economically responsive, so companies have access to the skills they need.

- When trying to fill vacancies, UK companies are most likely to rely on word of mouth (51%) and posting adverts on job search websites (43%)

- 50% of businesses receive job applications from EU nationals and 30% from non-EU nationals

- Firms report that their non-UK workers have diverse skills sets: 42% skilled manual/technical, 37% professional/managerial, 35% un-/semi-skilled and 23% clerical/administrative

- 20% of businesses say they would respond to potential future restrictions on EU nationals to work in the UK by focusing recruitment on UK workers, while 15% don’t know how they would respond.


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