The BCC Quarterly International Trade Outlook sets out the opportunities and risks facing British companies as they trade the world - with a particular focus on timely information on dynamic new markets.
Quarterly International Trade Outlook – Quarter 4 2017
The Quarterly International Trade Outlook, published by the BCC and DHL for the fourthquarter of 2017, showsshows exporters are being hampered by widespread labour shortages, with three-quarters of recruiting firms experiencing difficulties.
The BCC/DHL Trade Confidence Index, which measures the volume of trade documents issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce for goods shipments, fell by 1.96% on the quarter, but still stands at the fourth highest level on record.
The survey, based on the responses of over 3,200 exporters, shows that in the manufacturing sector, export sales and orders remain stable, while they slowed slightly for the services sector in the final quarter of 2017.
According to the results, both sectors are being severely hampered by the prevalence of skills shortages. Across the board, three-quarters of exporters that tried to recruit reported difficulties in finding the right staff. In the manufacturing sector, the greatest difficulty was in finding skilled manual and technical labour (69%) and in the services sector, it was professional and managerial level positions (52%).
The findings reflect the extent of labour shortages facing firms across many sectors and regions. Addressing the growing skills gap is a joint responsibility for business, government and the education sector. Companies themselves must do more to invest in training, but to do that they need confidence in the government’s ability to deliver a stable and coherent system for high quality technical skills.