Kent skills shortage reaches record high

Ben Jeffries Influencer 2

Business growth throughout Kent remains hampered by a lack of skilled workers, figures released by the British Chambers of Commerce have revealed.

In its Quarterly Economic Survey for the months April to June, the organisation warned that the shortage of skilled workers ‘continued to intensify’ as a record number of would-be-hirers struggled to fill posts.

In total, eight out of every ten firms looking to employ people said they found it challenging to find potential employees with the right skills – this represented 55 per cent of all respondents.

Worryingly, two thirds of firms responding to the survey said they were operating below capacity, while 15 per cent said they had difficulty filling even semi/unskilled jobs.

The report also found that after a couple of years of ‘fluctuating fortunes’ exports had improved during the second quarter, a change it said was ‘probably’ down to the depreciation of sterling.

Turnover among Kent firms decreased slightly, with 22 per cent recording a decline, up two points from the previous quarter.

Whilst confidence in the next 12 months’ sales turnover remained positive, profit expectations have been eroding since last autumn, the report said.

Jo James, Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said it was ‘too early’ to say what the impact of the referendum was likely to be yet and all evidence so far was ‘anecdotal’.

However, she pointed out that with a decline in the number of businesses taking part in the survey – only 70 per cent of the previous two quarters’ average responded – the second quarter results could be skewed.

“Those that did respond were obviously those that felt confident therefore the results from the survey are fairly upbeat for the county,” she said.

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