BCC News: Quarterly Recruitment Outlook: No sign of hiring difficulties easing 

The latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook (QRO), a survey of more than 5,000 UK firms of all sectors and sizes by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) reveals businesses are still facing record high difficulties in hiring new staff.

The first quarter results for 2023 show that recruitment difficulties have fallen just two percentage points from the record high level of 82% in Q4 2022.

  • 80% of businesses surveyed (92% of whom are SMEs) attempting to recruit have faced challenges, with hospitality and manufacturing firms still the most likely to report difficulties
  • Almost six in ten (59%) businesses are actively trying to recruit staff
  • BCC calls on Government to work with business on solutions including skills training, investment and urgent reform of the Shortage Occupations List (SOL)

Attempted recruitment in Q1 was virtually unchanged from the previous quarter, with 59% of those surveyed looking to find staff (61% in Q4 2022).

While recruitment difficulties are being experienced across the economy, firms in the hospitality and manufacturing sectors were the most likely to report recruitment difficulties (83% in each sector). This is closely followed by the construction and engineering sector (81%) and then professional services; and public, education, health sector on 79%.

The recruitment pressure points vary across sectors. For firms who struggled to recruit in the construction and engineering sector, 71% faced difficulties in finding skilled manual/technical workers. However, for hospitality businesses that struggled to recruit, 64% faced difficulties in finding semi/unskilled workers.

Investment in training remains stubbornly low in an environment of increasing cost pressures. Just over a quarter of firms (27%) reported an increase in their training investment plans over the last three months (24% Q4 2022), while 14% report a drop.

Overall, 67% of businesses say labour costs are a source of inflationary pressure, with a similar number (66%) worried about energy costs. Concerns around labour costs are highest in manufacturing (76%) followed by construction and engineering, logistics, and hospitality (each at 70%).