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Labour market

Access to skills and labour is one of the most important issues facing UK business communities right now. We do research on a range of issues affecting the labour market, including skills, training, and employment policy.

The Chamber Network also produces an annual Workforce Survey covering the most relevant topics relating to employers and their staff. Read some of our most recent work on the UK's labour market.


Quarterly Recruitment Outlook Q3 2019

Quarterly Recruitment Outlook Q3 2019

The latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with Totaljobs, reveals that almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of businesses who attempted to recruit faced recruitment difficulties in Q3 2019, compared with 64 per cent in Q2.


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Quarterly Recruitment Outlook Q2 2019

Quarterly Recruitment Outlook Q2 2019

The latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with Totaljobs, finds that recruitment intentions strengthened in the second quarter of 2019, while difficulties finding suitable staff eased, but remain high by historic standards.

Based on the responses of over 6,500 businesses of all sizes and sectors, the report indicates that demand for labour remained strong in the second quarter, despite a subdued economy. The proportion of UK firms attempting to recruit in the second quarter of the year rose from 53% to 60%.


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Beating the UK's skills gap

Beating the UK's skills gap

LinkedIn has hosted three webinars on Beating the UK's skills gap. BCC's Hannah Essex and Jane Gratton took part in two to share their thoughts on how to create and retain the best people.

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Workforce Survey 2019: Cost and administrative burden of employment continues to climb

Workforce Survey 2019: Cost and administrative burden of employment continues to climb

Business is calling on the next Prime Minister to reduce the unsustainable cost of employing people in the UK. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of firms report the cost burden of employment has increased compared to five years ago, according to new research by the British Chambers of Commerce and global job site Indeed.

Based on the responses of over 900 firms from across the country, the survey found a third (33%) say the cost burden of employment has increased significantly.


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Workforce survey 2019:  Immigration proposals could exacerbate labour shortages

Workforce survey 2019: Immigration proposals could exacerbate labour shortages

Over half of UK businesses with staff from outside the UK would be negatively impacted by government proposals for the UK’s future immigration system, according to new research released today by the British Chambers of Commerce and Indeed.

According to a survey of 380 businesses that currently employ non-UK nationals, 53% report they would be negatively impacted by proposals requiring all skilled migrant workers to earn a minimum annual salary of £30k once the UK leaves the EU.


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Workforce survey 2019: Remove blockers in the skills system to alleviate recruitment struggles

Workforce survey 2019: Remove blockers in the skills system to alleviate recruitment struggles

New research by the British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with global job site Indeed, reveals the increasing time it’s taking businesses to recruit the skills they need, emphasising the importance of removing blockers in the training system to develop a pipeline of talent.


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Quarterly Recruitment Outlook Q1 2019

Quarterly Recruitment Outlook Q1 2019

Recruitment intentions were strong in the first quarter of the year but nearly 75% of firms reported a shortage of suitable candidates, according to the landmark publication of the Quarterly Recruitment Outlook released by the British Chambers of Commerce in partnership with Totaljobs.

The inaugural report finds that businesses are showing strong hiring intentions overall, although there were sector and location variances. However, recruitment difficulties are prevalent across all categories.

The results show that half of business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies (49% respectively) tried to find staff in the previous three months. The construction sector showed the strongest appetite for labour growth, with 65% of respondents attempting to recruit but four-fifths of those struggled to find the right people.


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Mental health at work becoming less taboo

Mental health at work becoming less taboo

Almost 30% of businesses have seen an increase in the number of staff taking time off for mental health reasons, according to a survey conducted by leading business organisation British Chambers of Commerce, and Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer.

One in three (33%) business leaders have also noticed an increase in the length of time that staff are taking off due to mental health issues.

The survey, of over 1,000 business leaders from every region and nation of the UK, suggests that firms are more aware than ever of mental health concerns in the office, and that the topic is becoming less taboo for both employees and employers alike.




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Workforce Survey 2018: UK set for a pay rise

Workforce Survey 2018: UK set for a pay rise

One in two businesses (50%) are set to grant staff pay rises of over 2% in the next year, according to a new survey by the BCC and online recruitment company Indeed.

The survey, of over 1,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors, reveals that 6% of firms will increase pay by more than 5%, 32% by 2-5%, 12% in line with consumer price inflation, and 18% by 1-2%.

Only 2% of firms say that they expect to decrease salaries – set against a backdrop of increasing upfront business costs.


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Workforce Survey 2018: Training and flexible working key to staff retention

Workforce Survey 2018: Training and flexible working key to staff retention

Aside from staff pay, firms are more likely to increase their investment in training, and introduce more flexible working practices, in order to retain staff, according to a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce and recruitment company Indeed.

The survey, of over 1,000 businesspeople across all sizes and sectors, shows that just under half (42%) of businesses would invest in training and developing their staff in order to increase staff retention, while 38% would look to introduce flexible working practices, from flexible hours and remote working to job-sharing.





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Workforce Survey 2017: Apprenticeship Levy

Workforce Survey 2017: Apprenticeship Levy

BCC’s annual workforce survey, held in partnership with Middlesex University London, found that six months after its introduction, businesses are still in the dark about how best to utilise the Apprenticeship Levy.

The research found that nearly a quarter (23%) of levy-paying firms have no understanding of the Apprenticeship Levy or don’t know how their company will respond to it. Businesses with a pay-bill of less than £3m fall under the levy threshold but can still apply for apprentice funding, yet the findings of the survey show 66% of these companies haven’t taken any direct action to use the funds or don’t know about it.

The findings reinforce the need for clearer guidance and support for businesses wanting to utilise the Apprenticeship Levy.


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Workforce Survey 2017: Skills Shortages

Workforce Survey 2017: Skills Shortages

BCC’s workforce survey of over 1,400 businesses, held in partnership with Middlesex University London, reveals that half of UK businesses have faced skills or labour shortages in the last year, but only a minority are actively looking overseas to fill vacancies.

According to the findings of the survey, two-in-five (40%) UK businesses have employees from other EU countries on their workforce, while 23% have employees from outside the EU. 38% of businesses say future restrictions on the rights of EU nationals to work in the UK would have a negative impact on their business.

The results challenge the myth that UK firms are ignoring local workers in favour of overseas labour.


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Workforce Survey 2017: Impact of Employment Costs

Workforce Survey 2017: Impact of Employment Costs

The survey, held in partnership with Middlesex University London, reveals that pensions auto-enrolment, National Living Wage and the Apprenticeship Levy have increased the cost base of businesses, and could lead to reduced opportunities for investment and wage growth.

The rise in the National Living Wage (NLW) in April of 2017 has increased employment costs for one-in-two companies (50%) in the UK. There appears to be a North/South divide, with firms in the North of England (55%) and the Midlands (51%) more likely to be impacted by the National Living Wage than firms in the South (43%).

The BCC is calling on the government to ensure no new upfront costs or taxes – which sap investment, growth and recruitment potential – are imposed on business for the remainder of this parliament.

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BCC responds to Migration Advisory Committee call for evidence

BCC responds to Migration Advisory Committee call for evidence

The BCC has responded to the Call for Evidence on the Migration Advisory Committee's commission to examine the economic and social impact of the UK's exit from the European Union, and on how the UK's immigration system should be aligned with a modern Industrial Strategy.

The evidence provided in this submission is based on the results of the BCC’s 2017 Workforce Survey. In the report, we have included evidence submitted by Accredited Chambers of Commerce highlighting the results of engagement with businesses in their locality and the needs of individual regions and sectors.

The BCC has made recommendations on three key areas:

  • Access to Skills and Labour
  • Certainty
  • Low Skilled Workers, Sector Deal and Student
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The BCC is campaigning to fix the fundamentals of the UK economy.

The BCC is campaigning to fix the fundamentals of the UK economy.


Many of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the UK economy, including the growing skills gap, have little or nothing to do with the UK’s departure from the European Union.

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Weak GDP growth forecast for 2020 as business investment falls

UK economic growth in 2020 is forecast to slow to its weakest rate since the financial crisis as higher government spending struggles to offset falling business investment, weakening net trade and sluggish consumer spending.

Chamber Business Awards 2019: Celebrating the best of British Business

The British Chamber of Commerce’s annual Chamber Business Awards ceremony last night celebrating the very best of British business.

British firms hit by power cuts even as electricity demand set to rise

Businesses are hampered by an unreliable electricity supply according to a survey of more than 1,000 business leaders published today by British Chambers of Commerce and Drax.

UK road and rail networks not meeting business needs

Business satisfaction rates fall, underlining need for parties to make good on infrastructure promises