UK business confidence remains steady despite the economic fall-out of the war in the Middle East and tumbling stock markets, according to a new report.
However, the study by TMP/Hudson Global Resources, based on a survey of 3,000 businesses, finds that problems are looming for UK plc if it does not take positive action to address long-term skills shortages.
The survey shows the majority of employers believe staff numbers will increase or remain the same in the next six months, indicating that UK business remains confident in its prospects despite the events of recent months.
Key findings include:
- 35 per cent of businesses expect to increase staff levels during the next six months, with four in 10 (43 per cent) forecasting they will remain the same;
- Only 15 per cent of companies expect to have to cut staff numbers during the next six months. This compares favourably to the last six months, when more than one-quarter (27 per cent) of businesses cut staff numbers;
- Despite the soft job market, almost one-third (32 per cent) of companies are still affected by specific skills shortages. However, only one-quarter of firms (26 per cent) have a strategy in place to manage this issue over the long-term, with 48 per cent not having one at all.
Chris Herrmannsen, European president of TMP/Hudson Global Resources, said: "Our Industry Insight survey shows that UK plc still believes itself to be in good health, despite global economic conditions. However, while this is positive news, it is of some concern that even in a relatively soft labour market, many businesses are still being hit hard by skills shortages in key areas of their business, but are doing nothing to address this long-term issue.
"An ageing population and increased demand for new work skills means skills shortages will become far more severe during the next decade, and companies need to give serious consideration about how they are going to overcome this challenge."