Most sectors of UK economy ‘facing skills shortages’

The report also showed that businesses increased staff numbers in May at the slowest rate in eight months owing to both a shortage of suitable candidates and concerns over the outcome of the June 23 referendum on European Union membership.

Kevin Green, REC chief executive, said, “Whatever happens post-June 23, we need to ensure a sensible approach to immigration is taken, so that employers have access to the people they need. Sourcing workers from outside the UK is going to be an ongoing necessity if we are to continue seeing the British economy grow.

“The hospitality sector is a case in point. The latest data shows a surge in demand for staff from hotels and restaurants, as they expect many holidaymakers to stay in the UK this summer rather than travel abroad.

“The UK job market has been incredibly successful over the last seven years because of its dynamism and flexibility. Policymakers have a responsibility not to derail that success.”

Naomi Smith, Europe director of business lobby group London First, said: “This research proves that the anti-immigration rhetoric of the ‘leave’ side is wholly unjustified.

“Leaving Europe would create a political climate that would strangle Britain’s ability to source the best talent from around the globe, and put the prosperity of those born here at risk.”

Official data showed that British firms created a net 44,000 jobs in the first quarter of this year, down from 195,000 in the last three months of 2015 but still taking the proportion of working-age people in jobs to a record high.

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