Manufacturing faces record difficulty finding skilled workers

Report highlights record difficulties finding skilled workers in some sectors.

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The manufacturing industry is facing record difficulties in finding skilled workers and the services sector is reporting similar shortages, according to the British Chambers of Commerce’s quarterly economic survey.

The survey, the UK’s largest private sector survey of business sentiment, finds that the UK economy ended 2018 “stuck in a weak holding pattern”, with stagnating levels of growth and business confidence as a result of heightened Brexit uncertainty and other economic pressures.

The survey found the percentage of services firms reporting an increase in domestic sales and orders dropped to two-year low; recruitment difficulties in manufacturing were the joint highest on record and in the services sector they “hovered near a record-high”; and that price pressures have risen, particularly for manufacturers.

The results of the survey of 6,000 firms highlight the extent to which labour shortages have risen in the UK as four-fifths (81%) of manufacturers that tried to recruit reported difficulties in finding the right staff – the joint highest level since the survey began in 1989. In the services sector, the BCC says the level (70%) hovered close to the record high recorded in the previous quarter (72%).

It adds that the percentage of manufacturers expecting to raise prices is at its highest in a year and is almost three times higher than its pre-EU referendum average. Cashflow continues to be a concern for both sectors, with the balance of firms reporting improved cash flow remaining weak.

The BCC is calling on all political parties to find a way forward and ensure that the UK does not face a messy and disorderly exit from the EU.

Meanwhile, figures from the Office for National Statistics show redundancies in the UK have fallen to a record low, official figures show. A total of 83,000 people – one in every 385 workers – were made redundant in the three months to October, the smallest level since the Office for National Statistics began counting in 1995.

Meanwhile, a survey from Acas, released on 7th January, shows that over half of workers (53%) believe that getting the right people with the right skills will be the biggest issue faced by their workplace in the year ahead. Acas commissioned YouGov to find out what UK employees identified as the most important workplace issues in the year ahead. The other two top issues identified were technological change (36%) and productivity (36%).

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