Manufacturing companies in Shropshire are refusing to hire young people because of growing concerns over their reliability, it has been revealed.

Some businesses are having so much trouble with interview ‘no-shows’, or young staff failing to complete their first week in a job, that they are adopting policies of no longer seeking to recruit anyone under the age of 21.

This is one of many powerful findings from the latest quarterly economic survey carried out by Shropshire Chamber of Commerce.

The report, which covers the period between April and June this year, looks at a range of areas including cashflow, profitability, investment, confidence, skills and recruitment, and international trade.

And businesses have not pulled their punches when talking about some of the frustrations which are currently holding them back.

Ruth Ross, Shropshire Chamber’s chief executive, said: “It is clear from the results of this latest survey that getting the right staff is still proving difficult.

“Qualifications not meeting employer expectations, and recruitment shortages, are causing major issues for businesses across all sectors, and salary demands remain high, which is putting pressure on profitability.

“Interview no-shows, or younger recruits not even completing their first week, is hampering the manufacturing industries, with some employers revealing to us that they are no longer recruiting anyone under 21 years of age.

“Machine operators, fabrication welders, project managers, warehouse staff, trades and engineers are high on the list of needs from across the sectors again this quarter. The construction sector is still in need of all trades.”

The survey also showed that software developers were in particularly high demand across Shropshire, with employers reporting that the skillset and experience of applicants was not matching expectations.

Cashflow is becoming an increasing concern to many businesses. One professional services company said: “We have seen customers taking longer to pay, and some suppliers wanting payment sooner.”

Rising interest rates – even before the most recent 0.5% hike - figured highly on the list of ‘fear factors’ for Shropshire businesses this time, with one company saying: “They are making the situation worse because there is less money in a person’s pocket to spend, and that affects every business in the country.”

Profitability is also a mounting concern, with one hospitality business saying: “We are charging more for our services, but not in line with increased staff costs. We also have increased food, wine and tax costs, so it is not ideal for a restaurant.”

The survey, which is fed into the British Chambers of Commerce database and also used by the Government and Bank of England to shape economic policy, reported a notable reduction in the amount of investment in plant, machinery and training across Shropshire during the second quarter of this year.