Recruitment problems are continuing to frustrate Shropshire businesses, preventing many of them from fulfilling existing orders and holding them back from expansion.

The quality and quantity of applicants is still consistently falling short of requirements, according to the latest quarterly economic survey from Shropshire Chamber of Commerce.

It comes as a new Quarterly Recruitment Outlook survey by the British Chambers of Commerce reveals businesses across the whole of the UK are still facing record high difficulties in hiring new staff.

Ruth Ross, Shropshire Chamber’s chief executive, said: “The local workforce continues to be very transient, which is not supportive of business.

“Employers across most sectors are voicing frustrations over the quality and quantity of applicants which in many cases is preventing them from expanding, taking on new business, or even fulfilling existing orders.

“Our survey found that more than four out of five employers are having to offer higher wages to attract staff, at the same time as wrestling with the dilemma of trying not to pass on big price rises to their own customers. It’s a real headache for many.”

One company in the marketing sector told the Shropshire survey: “We have very few applications, but those who have contacted us want ultimate flexibility without being prepared to make any commitment.”

Another employer in the business services sector said ‘a lack of work ethic and range of skills’ was an issue among applicants.

A boss from the local construction sector said: “We get a lot of applicants with not enough experience for the role they apply for.”

And a Shropshire hospitality and tourism company owner said: “It is hard to find reliable housekeeping and event staff willing to work, even above the minimum wage.”

The local survey did suggest some small hints of improvement, with regular site personnel in the construction sector becoming a little more readily available due to a slowdown in the housebuilding market.

But Ruth Ross said this was largely cancelled out by those who felt the cost of living crisis was making it harder to retain staff at current wage levels.

The national results, which take in the first quarter of 2023, show that recruitment difficulties have fallen just two percentage points from the record high level of 82% in final quarter of last year.

Attempted recruitment in the first three months of 2023 was virtually unchanged from the previous quarter, with 59% of those surveyed actively looking for staff.

While recruitment difficulties are being experienced across the whole economy, the BCC survey found that firms in the hospitality and manufacturing sectors were the most likely to report recruitment difficulties.

This was closely followed by construction and engineering and then professional services, public, education, and health sectors.