Almost half of North-East businesses have faced skills or labour shortages in the last year, according to a new survey.
The annual workforce survey by the North East England Chamber of Commerce, based on the responses of more than 1,400 business people across the UK, found that 45 per cent of firms in the region had faced skills or labour shortages over the last 12 months.
Of these, most sought to address the shortages by increasing investment in recruitment (39 per cent), training (32 per cent) and pay and benefits (24 per cent). The survey found that only eight per cent of businesses target recruitment of non-UK nationals overseas.
According to the findings of the survey, three in 10 businesses in the North East have employees from other EU countries on their workforce, while a quarter have employees from outside the EU.
Twenty-two per cent of North-East firms say future restrictions on the rights of EU nationals to work in the UK would have a negative impact on their business.
Other key findings of the survey are:
When trying to fill vacancies, North-East companies are most likely to rely on word of mouth (49 per cent) and using UK-based recruitment agencies (45 per cent);
Forty-two per cent of businesses receive job applications from EU nationals and 21 per cent from non-EU nationals;
Chamber members report that their non-UK workers tend to be highly skilled – 46 per cent skilled manual/technical, 36 per cent professional/managerial, 25 per cent clerical/administrative and 11 per cent un-/semi-skilled.
Paul Carbert, policy adviser for the Chamber, said: “As the Government plans for a post-Brexit immigration policy, our members want to see a flexible and unbureaucratic system that allows businesses to access the best global talent.”