Belfast Telegraph

Skills shortage in almost every economic sector, report finds

Businesses are now facing a shortage of skilled workers in nearly every sector of the economy, ranging from engineering to education, according to a new report.

Despite the problem, employers are showing uncertainty about hiring in the run-up to the EU referendum, said the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

Permanent staff placements continued to rise in May, but the rate of expansion eased to an eight-month low, a study found.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: "Whatever happens post-June 23, we need to ensure a sensible approach to immigration is taken, so that employers have access to the people they need. Sourcing workers from outside the UK is going to be an ongoing necessity if we are to continue seeing the British economy grow.

"The hospitality sector is a case in point. The latest data shows a surge in demand for staff from hotels and restaurants, as they expect many holidaymakers to stay in the UK this summer rather than travel abroad.

"The UK job market has been incredibly successful over the last seven years because of its dynamism and flexibility. Policymakers have a responsibility not to derail that success."

Naomi Smith, Europe director of business lobby group London First, said: "This research proves that the anti-immigration rhetoric of the Leave side is wholly unjustified.

"Leaving Europe would create a political climate that would strangle Britain's ability to source the best talent from around the globe, and put the prosperity of those born here at risk."

A Business Department spokesman said: "We want to equip young people with the skills they need to succeed and give businesses the talent they need to grow.

"That's why we're committed to creating three million apprenticeships by 2020 and incentivising our universities to drive up teaching quality.

"Our reforms are about putting employers in the driving seat so they can help develop apprenticeships and courses to build a future workforce that best meets their sector's needs."