Uncertainty named as top challenge for UK employers ahead of triggering of Article 50

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Over a third of UK businesses cited uncertainty as the main challenge to trading, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), ahead of the government’s planned triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty to leave the EU, City AM reports.

This uncertain environment was reflected by a split view on the economy, with a third believing the economy is strengthening while 29 per cent believes conditions are getting worse. London firms were more pessimistic than average, with 31 per cent believing the economy is deteriorating.

The next most cited concern was a tightening labour market, with skills shortages noted as the main concern by one in five businesses surveyed.

UK employment recently reached record highs, at 74.6 per cent of the working-age population, while unemployment has sustained lows not seen since 2005, according to the Office for National Statistics.

While wage growth has not taken off at the same time, almost half of businesses expect a shortage of suitable candidates for permanent roles, the REC report finds.

The tight labour market comes at a time 22 per cent of UK firms expect to hire more permanent staff. Hiring demand is even higher in London, with 28 per cent of the capital’s firms expecting to add roles in the short term.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, said: “There’s a lot about the UK jobs market to feel good about. Hiring in the capital is picking up speed as demand drives business forward.

“However, employers are eyeing the road ahead with trepidation. There are signs that individuals are becoming less inclined to move jobs, meaning that filling vacancies is becoming even more difficult for hirers.”

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