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UK business struggling with worker shortages

Businesses in the UK are dealing with staff shortages in the workplace according to new research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The data showed almost a third (32%) of businesses with 10 or more employees reported a shortage of workers with the human health and social work activities industries reporting the highest proportion of businesses affected at 54%.

Strike action has also had a significant effect on businesses. During October 2022, 13% of businesses had been affected by strikes. Out of those affected, 27% were unable to obtain required goods for their business.

Businesses dealing with skills shortages:

Skills shortages leads to increased overworking

Failure to attract workers puts key sectors at risk

Skills shortages plaguing older UK businesses

David Pye, director at independent consultancy Broadstone, said some businesses are yet to recover following the pandemic.

He said: “Alongside spiralling costs, a shortage of human capital has been an increasing problem for businesses in the aftermath of the pandemic. Some sectors are affected more than others but the impact is clear to see: a growing burden on employees remaining in the workforce risking burnout as well as businesses struggling to meet client demands and achieve their growth potential.

“An ever-growing number of people absent from work due to long-term illness and a shortage of skilled labour means that, for businesses, looking after existing employees is more important than ever. That is no mean feat in the face of a looming recession and soaring inflation." 

Further ONS data showed 59% of UK households had all people of working age in a job from July to September 2022, a figure which held steady from the corresponding period last year. 

The number of households with nobody in employment raised slightly from last year, rising 0.2 percentage points to 14%.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said the government's recent Autumn Statement was a missed opportunity to address skills shortages in the country.

He said: "Skills shortages could have been improved by reforming the apprenticeship levy. Making funding more flexible so businesses can use it for high-quality shorter training courses and non-apprenticeship schemes would be a win-win for industry, workers and government.

"Businesses are also crying out for immigration that allows them to fill roles and fuel the economic growth we all want. Something has got to give. Governments must make longer term skills and workforce planning a priority. Recruiters stand ready to play their part in that."