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Most exporters struggling to find the staff as skills shortage bites 

Britain’s exporters are struggling to grow as fast as they would like as they are enduring sustained recruitment difficulties.
The low rate of unemployment means there is only a small pool of easily available labour. Companies have to compete harder to attract and retain the best staff.
Two-thirds of the UK’s exporting manufacturers faced recruitment difficulties in the first quarter of the year, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found. Technical and skilled manual labour proved hardest to find.
Among services exporters the proportion was slightly lower at 57pc. They struggled most with professional and managerial-level staff.
In recent months the unemployment rate has come down to 4.2pc, intensifying firms’ problems.
Most exporters struggling to find the staff as skills shortage bites 

BCC boss Adam Marshall said more training is vital

Credit:
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP
Companies are increasingly hiring from the ranks of the "inactive" – that is, adults who are neither in work nor actively seeking a job. This includes people looking after their home or children, who have been tempted back to work as jobs are easier to come by.
“Businesses with global ambitions are facing critical skills gaps at just about every level. The combination of decades of constant change in the training system, declines in immigration, and tight local labour markets are stopping many firms from making key investments,” said the BCC’s director general Adam Marshall.
“A stable training system, a reformed apprenticeship levy, answers to practical questions around Brexit and clarity on the UK’s future immigration regime are urgently needed. Get these right, and exporters all across the UK will take risks, invest and grow.”
The companies are still growing – 42pc of manufacturers reported rising exports, as did 28pc of services firms in the survey of 3,300 businesses.
The weak pound is a problem for some of the exporters, as its effects have proved not to be unmitigatedly positive.
“Price pressures continue to weigh on business, with manufacturers particularly feeling the pinch from costs at the factory gate. While the fall in the pound has provided a boost for some exporters, it’s been a drag for others, who report rising costs for inputs and components,” said Mr Marshall. 
“While politicians export firms to do their purchasing closer to home, our evidence suggests that for many firms, import substitution isn’t currently a viable option – as many companies simply can’t find or afford the inputs they need on the UK market."
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