The data from the business group’s Quarterly Recruitment Outlook survey for the fourth quarter of 2021 (Q4) found that the proportion of firms across all sectors struggling to recruit staff reached new record levels.
Hospitality and construction firms were found to be the most likely to report difficulties, with 83% of hospitality businesses struggling to recruit.
More broadly, attempted recruitment in Q4 was up with the proportion of firms reporting difficulties filling roles reaching a historical high at 79%, up from 77% in the previous quarter.
“Once again, the results highlight the ongoing difficulties employers are facing in accessing skills and labour and the risk to our economic recovery," says Jane Gratton, head of people policy at the BCC.
“The record level of firms struggling to fill job vacancies in the quarter will have impacted on businesses’ ability to meet demand for goods and services - adding to already acute supply chain pressures.
“And now, as the Omicron variant begins to increase staff absences again, many firms could see any growth and recovery they have made slip back to first base."
Gratton goes on to say that more business investment in home grown talent, and creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce, is key to solving pervasive skills shortages, but adds that this won’t happen overnight.
"Burdened with high levels of debt, escalating wage and input costs, damaged cashflow and an uncertain economic environment, employers need help to get back on their feet.
“The Government must do all it can to ensure people can access rapid retraining opportunities for in-demand jobs, issue temporary visas for lower skilled jobs - where there is clear evidence of a national shortage - and ensure there are no further upfront costs on business for the remainder of this parliament.”
In the face of the ongoing labour shortages, hospitality firms have been left scrambling to find a long-term solution to the recruitment crisis.
Analysis published by student work app Stint late last year of vacancy data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) predicted that the number of unfilled hospitality jobs would sit at around the 163,000 mark by December 2021; an increase of 75,000 on December 2019.
At the time Stint said one of the key staffing issues the pandemic has created is bar staff, waiters and concierges not returning from furlough. Over the final six months of furlough the number of individuals in hospitality accessing the scheme fell by 831,000, yet during the same period it reports that vacancies increased by almost 100,000.
Angela Byrne, CEO of sector recruitment specialist Ginger Hospitality, says that despite the latest stats from BCC there is reason for businesses to be hopeful.
"There's a strong desire for the sector to rebuild," she says.
"Whereas last quarter there was a reliance on relief staff running some kitchens and front of house, we think restaurants are gearing up to fill permanent roles for kitchen and front of house.
"It's a huge, brilliant and important sector and as more certainty comes back into the economy, more positions will be filled."