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Skills shortage troubles 38 per cent of manufacturing firms

Candidate skills shortages troubled over 30 per cent of manufacturing firms in the final three months of 2011, according to a recruitment report.

Barclay Meade’s latest quarterly Tracking UK Recruitment report shows that 38 per cent of firms were concerned by skills shortages, compared to just 18 per cent in Q3 2011.

The Barclay Meade Tracking UK Recruitment report interviewed manufacturing managers and owners about their current recruitment plans and the landscape of their future workforce.

The report found that the number of businesses with a recruitment freeze in place fell quarter-on-quarter from 20 per cent to 16 per cent, while the number of businesses who reported they were stepping up hiring activity, increased from 16 per cent to 21 per cent.

Nearly one in four (23 per cent) business owners declared that while trade is good, they are cautious to recruit due to the uncertainty surrounding the future landscape of the manufacturing industry and wider UK economy. This is higher than in any other sector, and an increase of 10 per cent on the previous quarter.

The research also revealed:

  • Forty per cent of businesses are very optimistic about the next 12 months - the highest of all industry sectors and up from 25 per cent in the previous quarter. 
  • More than a quarter (28 per cent) of manufacturing firms are recruiting at graduate/entry level, 26 per cent are recruiting for administrative roles and 25 per cent are recruiting for middle management positions.
  • Manufacturing firms felt the state of the economy would have the biggest influence on their industry over the next 12 months, with 37 per cent of business owners wary of the potential threat of a double dip recession.
  • The current recruitment focus for business owners is on skilled workers (29 per cent) and procurement and supply chain candidates (14 per cent).

Barclay Meade director and manufacturing specialist Anton Roe said: “Throughout 2011 our tracker findings have shown a correlation between hiring activity and wider economic confidence.

“Recruitment in the manufacturing sector had been on the up for the first three quarters of the year, but it has taken a backwards step in Q4 as fears grow around the likelihood of a double dip recession and the collapse of certain European states.

“Aside from economic worries, a candidate skill shortage has increased as a problem and is currently a barrier to recruitment for more than a third of firms, suggesting many talented potential recruits could be sitting tight and waiting to see how the economy develops before making a decision on changing jobs.

“The results from the final Tracking UK Recruitment report of the year paint a similar picture and, as instability in the economy continues to slow down the recruitment process, employers are understandably cautious when it comes to investing in new staff.

“Despite businesses ending the year on a cautious note, our report highlights the fact many employers remain optimistic about the year ahead. What’s clear is that the sooner the crisis within the eurozone is resolved and clarity in the economy returns, the sooner employer confidence will return and benefit the UK jobs market. Until then the cost of making a wrong hire is as high as ever, so the recruitment industry must continue to support UK businesses by understanding the precise needs of companies and ensuring it delivers the right candidates to interview.”

Further reading:

Read the Tracking UK Recruitment report.

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