Contractor skills shortages having detrimental effect on customer service

Friday 12 June 2015

Customers are feeling the effect of skills shortages experienced by contractors, new research from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) shows. The Service Sector Surveyed, which is produced quarterly by the body highlights a deterioration in what the customer has been receiving.

There has been growing concern over the availability of skills and labour in the service industry within the UK for some time now. The CBI took the opinions of 174 firms into account when creating the survey and found that 48 per cent had increased employee numbers over the quarter.

In contrast to this, just six per cent of companies said their staffing numbers were down, making the last quarter the highest staff figures recorded since 2007. Despite this, a higher than average proportion of firms said that labour shortages were proving an obstacle to investment.

Not being able to hire staff and contractors exhibiting the right skills has proven detrimental for companies trying to implement business plans. Such issues are then seen in the service that is received by customers.

Raine Newton-Smith, director for economics at the CBI, said: "Prospects for consumer services remain buoyant, as real incomes rise supported by low inflation and strong employment.

"But concerns about skills shortages are increasing in both sectors, particularly among business and professional services firms looking to expand.

"Nevertheless, capital spending plans are firm across the sectors, especially in consumer services, where companies are focusing on developing market share by reaching new customers and providing more services."

A separate study by Adzuna into skills shortages showed that job openings now outstrip the number of people looking for work in three out of every five cities in the UK. It found the number of jobseekers in this country to stand at 795,967, with positions being advertised now topping one million.

This means that limited company and umbrella contractors with the right skills should have plenty of opportunity to take on suitable work. An even better chance is found in the north, where it is 14 times easier to find a job in one of its cities than in the south.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, commented that although the government was keen to take action on the matter of skills shortages, this isn't in fact the problem. He said that what is needed is a culture change, so that the workforce can take advantage of the recovery that has been earned.

By Victoria McDonnell

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