Belfast Telegraph

80% of Northern Ireland firms can't fill vacancies because of skills shortage

By John Mulgrew

A large majority of Northern Ireland businesses say they can't find staff due to a lack of key skills, a new survey has said.

Four out of five manufacturers said that they had difficulty recruiting for positions in the second quarter of the year, with 71% of those in the services sector also facing the same issues.

That's according to the latest Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry survey with BDO, for the last quarter.

That's despite 69% of manufacturing firms which said they were trying to hire workers.

Firms said a lack of the right skills and attitude as the main driver behind recruitment issues.

However, manufacturing had a positive performance with most areas seeing improvement. That's despite "considerable cost pressures".

Overall, business confidence "is still holding up in both manufacturing and services", the report said.

Exchange rate issues have also continued to ease in the second quarter.

As for the impact of Brexit, half of firms said they have not changed or are considering changing their business model as a result of the vote.

But of those which have considered changes, 9% have already made alterations, while around a third have considered it.

And around 7% have considered making changes to their business location, or setting up a presence outside Northern Ireland and the UK, with the bulk eyeing up the Republic.

Ann McGregor, chief executive of the NI Chamber, said:

"This quarter's results indicate that there is continued business growth in the region - albeit slow.

"The survey also highlights three key challenges facing businesses at the moment - inflation, recruitment difficulties and Brexit."

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