Shropshire Chamber of Commerce has warned that the serious recruitment struggles facing local businesses have created a ‘dangerous ticking timebomb’ for the county’s economy.

Latest labour market figures from the Office For National Statistics – coupled with today’s news of inflation topping 10% - show the availability of skilled staff remains incredibly tight, generating tough competition.

Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber, said: “The number of job vacancies across our county is now at near record levels.

“Companies across all sectors are telling us that they are struggling to attract candidates for a diverse range of positions – either getting no applications, or inviting people who simply fail to turn up for interview.

“With many businesses desperately trying to rebuild after the challenges of the Covid pandemic, this is a ticking timebomb for our economy which it can ill afford.”

He added: “While the Bank of England and the Government are trying to bring down inflation, competition for skills and labour will do the opposite and drive up wage costs. Prospective staff feel they are in the driving seat, and can name their terms.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that things have reached crisis point for many Shropshire businesses, forcing them to either let customers down, or turn away new business.”

The British Chambers of Commerce has called on the Government to urgently review and reform of the Shortage Occupations List to include more jobs at all skill levels.

Head of people policy, Jane Gratton, said: “This will give firms breathing space to train and upskill their workforce. We have over a million more job vacancies than people available to work, so the sooner we start the SOL review, the better.”

She added: “We also need to encourage economically inactive people back into the UK labour market through access to publicly funded rapid retraining opportunities.

“Businesses must be part of the solution too by creating the right workplace conditions, for example by providing flexible working practises, training opportunities and a focus on workplace healthcare and support.”