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Electrical sector feels skills shortage bite

The latest quarterly survey of the UK engineering services sector, backed by leading trade bodies ECA, BESA, SELECT and SNIPEF, reveals that electrotechnical businesses are being significantly impacted by skills and labour shortages. Meanwhile, most business owners in the sector continue to grapple with high prices and slow payment times.

Almost a third of respondents (30%) said their business’ turnover had dropped since Q2 – a marked increase since the last survey, covering Q1 and Q2, when just 1 in 5 respondents (19%) said their turnover had fallen since the start of the year. A fifth (21%) expect their turnover to fall again between now and the end of the year.

Nearly 2 in 5 respondents (38%) cited labour shortages as the biggest threat to their business. Other major concerns include delays to projects (20%) and cashflow (17%).

Of the respondents who currently have vacancies in their business, trouble filling those vacancies was blamed on pay expectations being too high (57%), applicants lacking sufficient skills (46%) and an insufficient number of applicants (41%).

When it comes to being paid on time, almost two thirds (57%) of respondents said that commercial clients and main contractors took 31 to 60 days to pay for work. Over 1 in 10 (21%) said they took 61 to 90 days – a drop of 50% since the last survey, indicating some improvement.

Payment times appear to have slowed in the public sector, with more than half (51%) of respondents saying public sector clients took 31 to 60 days to pay for work, and a tenth (9%) saying they took 61 to 90 days.

Last updated 29 November 23