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CHAMBER NEWS


Businesses are still impacted by skills shortages


The latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in partnership with Totaljobs, reveals that almost three-quarters (73%) of businesses which attempted to recruit faced recruitment difficulties in Q3 2019, compared with 64% in Q2. Skills shortages were predominantly felt across skilled manual roles


and professional roles, with 80% of construction firms and 71% of transport and distribution businesses facing difficulties recruiting the right staff. In the run up to Christmas, 70,000 transport and distribution roles were advertised on Totaljobs in Q3, receiving an average of 23 applications per vacancy. Despite concerns over Brexit deadlock, labour market performance


and expectations are holding up fairly well. Only 11% of businesses have decreased their workforce in Q3, with one in four businesses increasing their total headcount. Headcount remained consistent at 62% of responding businesses. Looking forward, one in four businesses plan to increase their


headcount in Q4 2019, and two in three expect to keep their workforce consistent. Just eight per cent of UK firms expect to decrease their headcount in Q4 2019. Supporting signs of a buoyant recruitment market, over 740,000 job vacancies advertised on Totaljobs in Q3 2019, with over 13 million applications made on the platform. Although over half (54%) of UK businesses tried to recruit in Q3 2019,


just one in four (28%) micro businesses attempted to recruit. In contrast, 75% of small and mid-sized businesses and 90% of large businesses (250+ employees) recruited in the same period. BCC Director General Adam Marshall said: “Jobseekers will welcome


the fact that many businesses are continuing to hire staff, but policymakers should be alarmed that skills shortages continue to bedevil firms – particularly in the skilled roles that will be needed to drive healthy manufacturing and export performance following Brexit. “The next Government must swiftly translate election promises into


action and deliver more generous investment in high-quality technical and vocational education at all levels, alongside a flexible, fast and affordable immigration system that provides access to a broad range of skills.


BCC Director General Adam Marshall


‘The next Government must swiftly translate election promises into action and deliver more generous investment in high-quality technical and vocational education’


"It must radically reduce upfront business costs so firms have the


confidence and cashflow to back this up with on-the-job training and apprenticeships.” Patrick Wehrmann, CEO of Totaljobs said: “The labour market remains


one of the strongest pillars of the UK economy, and in the previous quarter, there were almost 750,000 vacancies advertised on Totaljobs, driving over 13 million applications from the UK workforce. “Despite economic uncertainty, our latest research indicates that the


labour market is buoyant, and with over a quarter of businesses looking to expand their workforce with an increased headcount in Q4, this looks set to continue. However, it’s notable that skills shortages continue to affect businesses UK-wide, and as such, regardless of wider economic concerns, employers should be mindful that they are doing what’s necessary to attract and retain the best talent on offer.”


Power cuts as electricity demands incease


Businesses are hampered by an unreliable electricity supply according to a survey of more than 1,000 business leaders published by British Chambers of Commerce and Drax.


One third (33%) of UK businesses


have experienced electricity outages in past 12 months, according to a major new study of the business community’s views on infrastructure and risk.


With demands on energy set to


intensify in the years ahead – more than one quarter (27%) expect their dependence on electricity to increase – better support is needed to help businesses make the transition to clean energy and improved energy efficiency. Manufacturing in particular is expected to face higher demand, with 34% of manufacturers expecting their dependence on electricity to increase. By contrast, fewer than one in


‘It’s unacceptable that many companies are


facing power cuts and interruption to supply’


ten (eight per cent) of businesses experienced water outages, and only two per cent experienced gas outages. The research shows that business is already taking steps to reduce waste and emissions, with the most adopted measures over the past 12 months being increased recycling (61%), installing LED lighting (54%) and reducing paper consumption (49%).


BCC Director General Adam


Marshall said: “Our message to policy makers couldn’t be clearer: work with us in business to fix Britain’s energy infrastructure and ensure it’s fit for the future. “Access to affordable and


reliable energy is critical for businesses. It’s unacceptable that many companies are facing power cuts and interruption to supply, which can damage machinery and leave employees unable to do their jobs.


“Reliance on electricity is set to


increase across the economy as we move away from fossil fuel use. Electricity providers, industry, regulators and Government must work together to accelerate improvements in generation and supply — with a firm eye on our shared goal of net zero carbon emissions.”


business network December 2019/January 2020 33


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