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‘Turbulent times for employers could be made worse by Brexit’, says REC

Half of UK employers (51%) anticipate skills shortages for permanent staff, according to the latest JobsOutlook survey by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).


The REC’s latest survey of 600 employers reveals that 30% of organisations are operating at full capacity, while a further five in ten (50%) have only ‘a little’ spare capacity to meet any increase in demand.


Following the release of official data last week showing the employment rate is at a record high of 74.2%, the REC’s JobsOutlook report forecasts that candidate availability will tighten further. 68% of employers say they will maintain their existing permanent workforce, while one in five (20%) expect to take on more permanent staff in the next three months.


Employers flagged a shortage of candidates to fill permanent and temporary roles in areas such as engineering, technology, health and social care and hospitality. 


REC chief executive, Kevin Green, said, “The UK jobs market is at a tipping point, with the decision over our EU membership making a difficult situation worse. Whilst hiring has slowed down in recent months due in part to the Brexit question and global economic uncertainty, employers are telling us that finding candidates to fill vacancies is a difficult challenge.


“A vote to remain in the EU could release pent up demand, with a mini hiring boom over the second half of the year. On the other hand, a vote to leave is likely to see employers abandoning projects, shelving new expenditure and implementing hiring freezes during a prolonged period of uncertainty. We also have major concerns about the impact Brexit would have on lower-paid sectors which rely heavily on workers from the EU, such as hospitality, healthcare and farming. It is difficult to see how an Australian points-based immigration system would meet the needs of businesses in these sectors when British applicants are already in short supply.


“We have heard a lot of rhetoric calling for low-skilled EU migration to be curtailed, but what we haven’t heard is a viable explanation of how employers and our public services would be able to make up for the short fall in workers if free movement was removed.”  


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