Politics

Firms facing post-Brexit, post-Covid recruitment crisis ‘across the board’


The majority of companies in the manufacturing and services sectors are reporting near record-high problems with recruiting enough staff, according to a new survey.

More than nine in 10 employers in hospitality and catering are having difficulty finding staff, the poll of more than 5,600 firms by the British Chambers of Commerce suggests.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the number of job vacancies across the UK reached a 20-year high of 1.1 million between July and September – more than double the number at the start of the pandemic, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Adrian Hanrahan is the managing director of Robinson Brothers, a chemical manufacturing company in West Bromwich.

The company employs 260 people and is currently trying to fill more than 20 vacancies.

Mr Hanrahan said: “We have recruitment issues right across the board, I have never had anything like it before.

“What we are struggling with is getting people in full-time posts, and this has been going on for some time.

“It includes everything from engineering and maintenance to research, customer services and production operators.

“It is a real challenge. We have raised our salaries and we still cannot find them, but we are a family business and there are limits to what we can do.

“Pre-Brexit and pre-Covid we always had one or two vacancies, but this current scale is unprecedented. Everyone is looking for people.”

Jane Gratton, of the British Chambers of Commerce, called for more targeted post-Brexit immigration measures to help companies find enough workers.

She said: “It’s clear that staff shortages are worsening, impacting on recovery and growth for manufacturers and services businesses alike.

“Recruitment difficulties mean vacancies are left unfilled and firms are struggling to maintain normal operations. While employers are investing more in training, apprenticeships and flexible working practices, this will not improve things overnight.

“We need Government help to provide a more flexible skills system, rapid retraining opportunities and targeted immigration initiatives to plug skills and labour gaps.

“Wage pressures and energy prices are also ramping up the cumulative costs and there is a limit to how much more can be absorbed before firms are forced out of business.

“If action is not taken to address the mounting problems revealed by these data, then businesses will also face extreme difficulty in meeting demand and consumers will see further reductions in the goods and services available to them as we progress into winter.”

The warnings over the manufacturing and services industry comes after care sector bosses in England said that they are struggling to recruit and retain staff.

Industry body Skills for Care said that more jobs –about 100,000 of them – are unfilled now than before the Covid pandemic.

There has also been a shortage of HGV drivers, warehouse staff, and slaughterhouse workers.


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