Scots firms ‘struggling to hire’ in wake of Brexit vote

The UK is preparing to leave the EU. Picture: PA
The UK is preparing to leave the EU. Picture: PA
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More than two-fifths of Scottish firms are being hobbled in their expansion efforts by the struggle to hire and retain skilled staff since the Brexit referendum, a report out yesterday showed.

A total of 44 per cent of Scottish businesses “are reporting difficulty recruiting skilled staff”, and 41 per cent have seen accelerated employee turnover since the EU referendum in June 2016, says the report from Lloyds Banking Group.

Meanwhile, a separate Scottish jobs study out today from analytics consultancy IHS Markit says Scottish recruiters indicated “a further deterioration in overall candidate availability” in February.

“In fact, the decline in permanent staff supply was substantial and the steepest of all five surveyed UK regions,” Markit said.

The Lloyds report, produced in conjunction with London business membership organisation, London First, sought to analyse the impact of Brexit on business recruitment and access to skills in the UK.

“The skills shortage is proving to be an issue for businesses in Scotland, with 34 per cent saying it had impacted their activity,” it said. “Half said it affected their revenue growth and business expansion, and 45 per cent said it had made it harder to respond to customer needs.

“The biggest gap reported by respondents was for technical and job-specific skills (50 per cent), reflective of the largest portion of respondents being in the manufacturing sector. Many thought these gaps would persist over the next 18 months.”

A total of 59 Scottish firms were surveyed in January and February by Lloyds, including 11 with a turnover of more than £750 million and 15 firms with a turnover of £25m-£749m.

The report added: “To help generate a pipeline of future talent, almost half (47 per cent) of Scottish firms said they would be focusing on improving skill-set in the next 18 months as part of recruitment efforts.”

Philip Grant, Lloyds’ ambassador for Scotland, said having the right access to skills was “vital” for any business to grow, and being able to hire and retain talented people should be “at the top of the agenda for firms across Scotland”.

The IHS Markit report said that despite the deterioration in candidate availability in Scotland actual permanent staff placements in February showed a further “sharp rise”.

The permanent placements index struck 58.3 last month, down from 58.7 the previous month, where a figure of 50 denotes no change – February being the 13th successive month Scottish permanent staff placements have risen.

Kevin Green, head of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said: “Even with employer uncertainty, demand for staff continues to rise. At the same time candidate availability is dropping, which means employers in all sectors are struggling to recruit for the roles they desperately need to fill.”