South Yorkshire Chambers urge immediate action on labour shortages as landmark survey reveals widespread challenges

Highlights from the South Yorkshire Quarterly Economic Survey:

·         Businesses are taking on more staff: 39% of responding firms increased their workforce over the last three months, the highest figure since before the pandemic.

·         Firms are struggling to hire: of the 56% of businesses that tried to recruit 78% reported difficulties – an historically high share.

·         Businesses report strong upward pressure on prices and wages: nearly half of firms (49%) reported operating at full capacity with only 2% expecting their prices to fall over the next three months.

In a joint statement by the CEOs of Doncaster, Sheffield and Barnsley & Rotherham Chambers of Commerce, they said:

“We welcome that so many businesses across South Yorkshire saw increased customer demand over Q3. Many are taking on new staff, growing their sales and order books and working hard to get back on their feet after COVID lockdowns and related disruptions.

 “But we are now in a supply-chain crisis. The chronic shortages of labour and materials across our economy and the wider UK risk throttling our recovery. This a crisis not only of driver shortages but of unfilled vacancies across many sectors: from hospitality to retail, across services and manufacturing, from skilled technical workers to managerial staff. These are fundamental problems and they won’t go away with the end of furlough.

 “After such a long period of pandemic restrictions, the last thing businesses need now are more barriers to growth as they struggle to recruit and battle rising prices and upfront costs. We are calling on government – local and national – to work with the business community on practical, real-world responses to this growing crisis. We need to broaden out employment schemes like Kickstart so link more people to job opportunities. Where necessary, review visa policies to address immediate bottlenecks. We need to give more financial support to businesses that invest in their productivity  – not punish them through tax rises. And longer term, we need to ensure that the skills system delivers for our constantly-evolving business base.”

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