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Sectors still blighted by skills shortages

Although the latest Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG Report on Jobs shows permanent placements rose again in July (albeit at a slower pace), skills shortages continue to blight many UK sectors.

REC Chief Executive Kevin Green, said: 

"While demand for staff remains strong, the labour market is tightening. Alongside long-term problem areas such as technology and engineering, we're now seeing vacancies such as bricklayers and drivers being flagged as hard to fill."

Green believes business and government must both ensure that employees and people entering the jobs market are skilled, but businesses, he said, must be prepared to hire staff with potential and invest in their development.

"We need the government to provide more effective careers advice and encourage people to study the right subjects," Green argued. "And while these changes are feeding through into the jobs market, we need a sensible and balanced approach to immigration, so employers have access to the workers they need."

Bernard Brown, KPMG Partner, added: 

"It's clear that we're in the grip of an industry-wide skills shortage, which shows no signs of abating. Businesses are struggling to find the talent they need and this will have long-term implications for their growth and potentially impact the wider performance of the UK economy.

"The construction industry in particular is struggling to keep pace with demand, with businesses heavily recruiting both permanent and temporary workers. The risk is that a shortage of skilled labour in this sector could impede Britain's major building projects and put the brakes on the country's real estate market."

Green had similar concerns about the skills shortage's impact on UK wealth creation and productivity, particularly in construction. He said: 

"If construction companies don't have the people they need, both infrastructure projects and house building will be constrained, and this will have an impact on wider economic growth."

The REC/KPMG Report on Jobs also found that:

  • The availability of staff for permanent roles fell in July, the sharpest fall since November 2014, with temporary/contract staff availability also decreasing.
  • Salaries were higher, particularly for temporary and contract staff.
  • Starting salaries for permanent hires continued to rise in July, although it fell to an 18-month low.
  • All four English regions posted increased permanent placements, but the Midlands showed the strongest growth for both permanent and temporary roles, while the South saw the slowest increase.
  • Engineering staff were the most sought-after hires in July, followed by construction workers.

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