A Black Country business boss said he could not fill 20 vacancies despite increasing wages amid a huge job recruitment crisis.
Adrian Hanrahan, managing director of West Bromwich-based Robinson Brothers, a chemical manufacturing company that employs 260 people, said he had never known such a shortfall in available workers.
The British Chambers of Commerce said a survey of more than 5,600 firms found a majority of those in manufacturing and services reported near record-high recruitment issues.
And more than nine in ten employers in hospitality and catering were having difficulty finding staff, the study indicated.
Mr Hanrahan, whose company employs 260 people, said: “We have recruitment issues right across the board, I have never had anything like it before.
“What we are struggling with is getting people in full-time posts, and this has been going on for some time.
“It includes everything from engineering and maintenance to research, customer services and production operators.
“It is a real challenge. We have raised our salaries and we still cannot find them, but we are a family business and there are limits to what we can do.
“Pre-Brexit and pre-Covid we always had one or two vacancies, but this current scale is unprecedented. Everyone is looking for people.”
Jane Gratton, of the British Chambers of Commerce, added: “It’s clear that staff shortages are worsening, impacting on recovery and growth for manufacturers and services businesses alike.
“Recruitment difficulties mean vacancies are left unfilled and firms are struggling to maintain normal operations. While employers are investing more in training, apprenticeships and flexible working practices, this will not improve things overnight.
“We need Government help to provide a more flexible skills system, rapid retraining opportunities and targeted immigration initiatives to plug skills and labour gaps.
“Wage pressures and energy prices are also ramping up the cumulative costs and there is a limit to how much more can be absorbed before firms are forced out of business.
“If action is not taken to address the mounting problems revealed by these data, then businesses will also face extreme difficulty in meeting demand and consumers will see further reductions in the goods and services available to them as we progress into winter.”
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