The latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) — in partnership with Totaljobs — found that recruitment intentions strengthened in the second quarter of 2019; and while difficulties finding suitable staff eased, they remain high by historic standards.
The Outlook — based on the responses of over 6,500 businesses of all sizes and from all sectors — indicates that demand for labour remained strong in the second quarter, despite a subdued economy, and that the proportion
of UK firms attempting to recruit rose from 53% to 60%.
It also showed that the percentage of firms reporting difficulties hiring the right staff fell from 73% to 64% — but was still at critical levels in a number of sectors, including construction (77%) and hotels and catering (74%).
Transport and distribution firms recorded ‘a strong appetite’ for labour, while on-going issues in the retail sector were indicated by more subdued recruitment numbers.
Totaljobs data shows that 147,000 applications were made to hospitality roles in Q2, while 1.7 million applications were made for transport and distribution vacancies.
In all, 780,000 jobs were advertised on Totaljobs in Q2 2019, with an average of 17 applications for each role advertised. Some 30% of UK firms say they plan to increase their workforce in Q3, with the construction industry reporting the highest proportion of firms (38%) looking to grow their staff numbers.
Although the Outlook indicates that the jobs market is showing resilience, despite sluggish economic growth and on-going uncertainty, the BCC says that the current scale of labour shortages cannot be sustained in the long term.
“The fall in hiring difficulties in Q2 is encouraging, but to achieve a prolonged decrease, the new Government must put reform of the skills and training systemat the top of its agenda.
) wants to see a coherent and long-term plan to stabilise the skills system, and for those struggling to hire locally, an efficient and cost-effective route to recruiting overseas workers at all skill levels.
“The solution to plugging the UK’s skills gap in the long term includes reforming the skills education and training system, and giving it time to bed in. We look forward to working with the new administration to get the system working better for everyone and ensuring that firms can access the skills they need to improve growth and productivity.”