More than four in ten reported “significant “ problems finding the right calibre of staff.

Employers cited the main reasons as the lack of applicants and those who do apply having a lack of both technical and workplace competence to be able to fill the roles.

The most difficult to find are skilled trade workers, engineers and sales staff.

The survey also found that skills are significantly most lacking in young people (those aged 24 and under)  compared to staff more generally. Attitude to work, numeracy and literacy were seen as most lacking in the younger people.

FSB regional chairman Graham Buck said: “This is a continuing problem and this is confirmed  by talking to FSB members.

“Not only does this region have real skills shortages, but the young people coming through the system do not have the necessary basic skills to thrive in the workplace.

“This is a significant barrier to business growth.

“Whoever forms the next government must take this on and fix it. They must have a plan to ensure that school and college leavers and graduates focus on personal skills that enhance employability. 

"Schools and colleges need to work on improving standards of numeracy and literacy in students and ensuring that qualifications give a young person the skills to flourish in the workplace and society.” 

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