Two thirds of exporters are struggling to recruit skilled staff – the highest level for almost two years, according to a study by DHL and the British Chambers of Commerce.
The Quarterly International Trade Outlook shows that the volume of UK exports remains high, and confidence among both services firms and manufacturers is increasing.
However, 68 per cent of exporters reported difficulties hiring staff during Q2 2015 – the highest level since Q4 2013. The greatest area of recruitment difficulty reported was in finding skilled and professional staff.
The volume of trade documents issued by Accredited Chambers of Commerce in Q2 declined by 0.3 per cent on the previous quarter, but it was still 1.5 per cent higher than for the same quarter in 2014, and was the second highest on record.
There is a growing expectation of export sales increasing over the coming months. The balance of those expecting exports to rise stood at +24 for service firms and just +12 for manufacturing firms.
Some 36 per cent of firms expect to take on additional staff in the next three months. However, confidence is rising more quickly among service firms than among manufacturers.
Phil Couchman, CEO, DHL Express UK, said: “It’s really encouraging to see the continued confidence expressed by UK businesses…
“On this occasion there is also the clear message that as we continue to deliver on our commitment to growth, we cannot afford to lose focus on the people and skills that are paving the way for these strong results to continue.
“It is vital that we all, as employers and educators, continue to up-skill our workforce in the UK. Whether that’s through apprenticeships for young people, or further investing in the development of our existing employees, a commitment to bettering our workforce is essential in ensuring that the skills gap is plugged and the UK remains competitive on a global scale.”