‘Skills shortages could affect Covid recovery’

Two new surveys highlight the rise in vacancies over the last few months and issues around skills shortages.

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Over two-thirds of UK companies trying to hire new workers are struggling to find recruits which could affect the Covid recovery, according to a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The Quarterly Recruitment Outlook survey for the second quarter of 2021, based on a survey of over 5,700 firms, showed a surge in the number of firms looking to recruit. Of companies attempting to recruit in recent months, those facing difficulties increased to 70% from just over half at the end of 2020, the BCC said.

The sectors most affected were construction and hotels & catering.

Many firms in the construction and production & manufacturing were finding difficulty filling skilled technical roles. However, 42% of production & manufacturing respondents also expressed difficulty filling unskilled roles, while 53% of construction firms said the same of managerial roles.

Amongst retail firms 43% cited issues with skilled roles, 39% with managerial jobs and 35% with unskilled roles. For professional services and marketing & media firms the difficulties were overwhelmingly with managerial roles, cited by 69% and 60% respectively.

Some 38% of businesses surveyed said they expected to grow their workforce in the next three months, while 57% expected their workforce to remain the same size and only 5% expected a decrease. Construction was the sector most likely to grow their workforce.

Jane Gratton, of the BCC, said: “As firms are released from lockdown restrictions, the skills and labour shortages they experienced before the pandemic are once again starting to bite. The encouraging increase in job creation across the manufacturing and services sectors is being held back by recruitment difficulties at all skill levels, jeopardising growth and productivity.”

The survey comes as Morgan McKinley’s Quarterly London Employment Monitor reveals that recruitment in London’s financial services sector has returned to growth. Compared to the previous quarter, there has been a 22% increase in jobs available and a 43% increase in job seekers.

Hakan Enver, Managing Director, Morgan McKinley UK, said: “There’s been pent-up demand from professionals waiting until more certain times to make a move. Lockdown has given them time to reflect and assess their careers, leading to an increase in job seekers (43%). However, questions remain around the long term impact, how employers will adapt to flexible working and how workplace culture can be maintained as more people work flexibly. We’re seeing an environment where the candidate dictates working conditions and can be selective on where they work.”

He added: “Flexible working is here to stay and firms must adapt to remote working practices and move towards measuring performance over presenteeism. Businesses are now recognising a need to train their leaders in measuring success through the output of their staff. Whilst the city can be cut-throat with unconscious pressure to be in the office and be seen, flexible working is changing this, but there’s still a feeling of missing out when not in the office. It will be interesting to see the impact when it comes to future promotions and salary changes.”



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