The Scaffolding Association is concerned about the impact of labour shortages on competitiveness

A recent survey conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and recruitment specialists, Pertemps, shows that over three quarters (76%) of UK businesses consider access to labour as a threat to their competitiveness. The figure is the highest since the question was first asked in 2016.

There were however some positive findings such as 50% of firms surveyed expecting to grow their workforce in the coming year.

Other observations included:

  • 87% of businesses are planning to recruit permanent roles this year, with nearly half of firms (46%) expecting higher levels of recruitment and only 9% expecting lower levels of recruitment for such roles compared to the past year.
  • Access to skills (noted by 77% of companies) and the ability to move UK workers across the EU (69% of companies) also feature heavily in businesses’ list of current concerns.
  • Asked for their top three factors vital to labour market competitiveness, 89% said finding enough people with the right skills, followed by a flexible labour market (47%) and a healthy workforce (35%).
  • Positively, nearly 7 in 10 firms (68%) are planning to either increase pay in line with or above inflation – making the rebound the highest since the question was first asked in 2009.
  • Nearly 3 in 5 firms (59%) are keeping Covid-19 safety measures in place to support employees’ confidence to return to offices.
  • As employees return, businesses are expecting changed working patterns to stay. Compared to working pre-pandemic, over three quarters (76%) expect the use of hybrid working to increase, 40% expect full time remote working to increase, and 58% expect informal flexibility to increase in their organisation.

Robert Candy, Chief Executive of the Scaffolding Association commented:

“While there are some positive takeaways from this survey, access to skills is a subject that is consistently failing British businesses – a trend which must rapidly be reversed.

Several sectors are on their knees right now – including road transport and hospitality with access to foreign labour sighted as the major contributing factor. Training and recruiting a homegrown workforce are critical to the long-term stability of the UK’s economy.

Construction itself has an enormous challenge on its hands – to recruit 217,000 workers into the industry over the next 5 years according to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). It can only do this if it can access the right skills supported by relevant training and qualifications that ensure individuals can access work”.

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