Recruitment appetite still strong, says BCC survey

The latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with Totaljobs, finds that recruitment intentions strengthened in the second quarter of 2019, while difficulties finding suitable staff eased, but remain high by historic standards.

  • 60% of businesses attempted to recruit in the previous three months, up from 53% in Q1.
  • 64% struggled to find the right people  – a drop from 73% in Q1.
  • 30% expect to increase their workforce in the next three months.

Demand for labour remains strong despite a subdued economy. The percentage of firms reporting difficulties hiring the right staff fell from 73% to 64%, although the figure remains at a critical level in sectors such as construction (77%) and hotels and catering (74%). 79% of hotel and catering respondents attempted to recruit, reflecting seasonal demand (up from 60% in Q1), although 77% were for part-time roles. Transport and distribution firms (72%) recorded a strong appetite for labour, while ongoing issues in the retail sector were indicated in more subdued recruitment numbers (50%). Totaljobs data shows that 147,000 applications were made to hospitality roles in Q2, and a further 1.7 million made to transport and distribution vacancies on the platform. In all, 780,000 jobs were advertised on Totaljobs in Q2 2019, with an average of 17 applications for each role. 30% of firms plan to increase their workforce in the next three months, with the construction industry reporting the highest proportion of firms (38%) looking to grow their staff. BCC is calling on the new government to put reform of the skills and training system at the top its agenda. BCC wants to see a coherent and long-term plan to stabilise the skills system, and for those struggling to hire locally, an efficient and cost-effective route to recruiting overseas workers at all skills levels. Claire Walker, Co-Executive director at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “In the face of sluggish growth and political uncertainty, the jobs market has been a positive for the UK economy. The quarter saw a pick-up in attempts to recruit and an easing of recruitment difficulties, although levels are high by historic standards and remain a cause for concern.” Patrick Wehrmann, CEO of Totaljobs, said: “The labour market continues to weather economic uncertainty, with the vast majority of businesses showing a continued commitment to maintaining or increasing staff headcount. In fact, just 7% of employers expect their workforce to decrease as we head into Q3.”

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