Hiring Difficulties Easing But Significant Concerns Persist

The British Chamber of Commerce has reported that fewer firms are facing difficulties in hiring – however 66% of survey-responding firms say they are facing challenges in finding staff. 66% is the lowest percentage in three years.

Companies in the production and manufacturing sector are the most likely to report challenges in hiring staff (70%).

62% of companies attempted to recruit in the first three months of the year   according to the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) Quarterly Recruitment Outlook (QRO) survey of more than 4,600 UK firms of all sectors and sizes.

Of these firms, fewer reported recruitment difficulties, 66% compared with 76% in Q4 of last year. It’s the first quarter the figure has fallen below 70% since the economy reopened post-pandemic (Q2 2021). 



77% of production and manufacturing firms were struggling to recruit at the end of 2023 – so hitting the 70% seems like an improvement. 

Of the manufacturing firms reporting problems, 70% faced challenges finding skilled manual/technical staff, and 35% semi/unskilled workers.


Training budgets

As businesses continue to face unpredictable economic conditions, the majority are struggling to increase investment in workplace training. For the third quarter in succession, just over a quarter of businesses (26%) reported an increase in staff training investment, with 12% reporting a drop, compared to 14% in Q4 2023.


Still struggling

Responding to the findings, Jane Gratton, deputy director public policy at the BCC says: “It’s welcome that the recruitment picture is improving and the percentage of firms reporting difficulties is at its lowest level for three years. This comes as other indicators show the labour market is cooling. 

“However, with 66% of firms still facing hiring challenges, the problems remain significant. Too many employers are struggling to find people with the skills they need to fill job vacancies. That’s damaging business opportunities and growth.

“The growing number of people not looking for work or out of action because of long-term health issues, is exacerbating the skills problem. More needs to be done to tackle the issues behind this worrying trend and help people back into the workforce.

“We need a long-term industrial strategy, underpinned by better skills planning and more investment in training. That needs to happen nationally, locally and in every business.  We need to support everyone who wants to work to achieve their potential. Doing that will help tackle skills shortages – improving growth and opportunities in local economies across the UK.”


Picture: Recruiting the right staff is still a problem for the majority of UK firms according to the British Chamber of Commerce.


Article written by Cathryn Ellis
02nd May 2024


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