Almost 80 per cent of businesses that were aiming to recruit new staff recently experienced difficulties while doing so, according to a new set of figures.
The numbers represent a record high, with the hospitality and construction sectors among those experiencing the most acute difficulties in matching new employees with relevant job opportunities.
According to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), all sectors of the UK economy are currently experiencing problems with labour supplies but the challenges are understood to be most significant among those hospitality and construction businesses.
Reasons cited as contributing significantly to the current situation include a lack of access to potential employees based outside the UK and disruptions due to the Covid pandemic.
Representatives of around 5,400 companies were polled on these issues recently by the BCC, with the proportion of recruiters having trouble finding the right people having increased from 77 per cent in Q3 last year to 79 per cent in Q4.
Jane Gratton from the BCC has said the results of the latest surveys highlight the extent of problems employers are currently facing while seeking the skills and labour they need, which is ultimately likely to hinder their capacity to meet demand for their services and contribute positively to the UK economy.
The widespread challenges around recruitment are in evidence at a time when inflation is rising and supply chains across various industries have come under significant pressure.
Another important part of the picture for many businesses is that they are saddled with high levels of debt after having taken on loans in order to survive the worst months of the virus crisis.
The BCC has said that with the Omicron wave of the pandemic having caused a big increase in staff absences in recent weeks, “many firms could see any growth and recovery they had made slip back again to first base”.
“More business investment in home grown talent - and creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce - is key to solving pervasive skills shortages, but this won’t happen overnight,” explained Ms Gratton from the BCC.
“Burdened with high levels of debt, escalating wage and input costs, damaged cashflow and an uncertain economic environment, employers need help to get back on their feet,” she added.