A RECENT survey has revealed that 81 per cent of manufacturers and 71 per cent of services businesses who were recruiting say they had difficulty filling positions in the second quarter of this year.
That is just one of the findings in the latest Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) and BDO Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) published last month (August).
The report for Quarter 2 of 2017 reveals that recruitment difficulties particularly in professional and managerial staff and skilled trades for manufacturers placed a burden on other employees and lowered productivity for almost 1 in four businesses. Almost 24%) of businesses said they had difficulty in meeting customer needs and 18 per cent gave recruitment problems as the reason for restricting business growth.
Respondents cited a lack of the right skills and attitude as the main driver of recruitment difficulties among local businesses. They said there were not enough applicants to meet the required skills and 31% also said there were not enough applicants with the required attitude/motivation.
Some 22% of businesses feel that there are not enough applications generally with 20% noting a lack of work experience as a major issue and 18% stating there is too much competition from other employers.
Overall, the results showed continued business growth in Northern Ireland despite mixed performances by both the manufacturing and services sector during the second quarter, Commenting on the survey results, Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of NI Chamber, said: “This quarter’s results indicate that there is continued business growth in the region – albeit slow. The survey also highlights three key challenges facing businesses at the moment – inflation, recruitment difficulties and Brexit.”
She continued: “Hiring staff with the right skills continues to be a major problem for businesses with 1 in four saying it had resulted in lower productivity. Low productivity has been a persistent feature of the Northern Ireland economy for many years now and despite a number of economic strategies attempting to address this, the gap is continuing to widen.”
Brian Murphy, Partner at BDO Northern Ireland added: “At a time when businesses are finding it tough to recruit people with the right skills into their workforce, it is vitally important to shape an economy that makes the most of its talented people and creates a smooth and supported route into employment.”