UK employers struggle to fill vacancies

The vast majority of employers are struggling to fill vacancies, according to the Annual Recruitment, Retention and Turnover Survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. 

The survey of 715 UK employers found that 85% had experienced recruitment difficulties in the past year and businesses are increasingly turning to migrant labour to fill the gaps.

More than a third (38%) of employers have turned to migrant labour to fill vacancies, and more than half of them say they have increased the proportion of vacancies they filled with overseas workers during 2004. 

Three-quarters (76%) of migrant workers who were recruited were employed on permanent contracts. 

Rebecca Clake said that in the face of persistent recruitment difficulties, it was not surprising that many employers were looking overseas for new recruits. 

“This shows how crucially important for the UK economy it is that government does not unduly restrict the supply of labour with any new legislation to limit immigration,” she said. “If the new rules are set too tightly, employers will be left struggling to function due to a shortage of labour.”

Analysis of the survey shows recruitment difficulties in the private sector to be growing, while the public sector’s difficulties ease.  A quarter of organisations are also struggling to recruit the most senior staff and directors that their organisation requires – pointing to a shortage of leadership talent in the UK.

The proportion of private sector companies reporting recruitment difficulties in the 2005 survey grew to 85% (from 82% in the 2004 survey), while public sector recruitment difficulties eased from 90% in the 2004 survey to 83% in the 2005 survey.

Many employers say they are being forced to recruit people who do not have all the necessary skills and experience required to do the job, and then investing in developing these people into the role.

More than two-thirds of employers (68%) have had to appoint someone in the past year who did not have all the skills and experience required to do the job, but who has the potential to grow into the role.

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