NEW research by Limerick Chamber shows that businesses and recruiters across the Mid West consider the ongoing housing crisis as the number one barrier in retaining employees and attracting new workers to the region.
According to the Chamber’s recent Business Sentiment Survey, which was built on feedback and opinion from businesses, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders across the Mid West Region, the majority of respondents put availability of housing and rental accommodation as the major barrier to filling job vacancies.
“Ultimately, the housing crisis is acting as a barrier to expansion and, with 50,000 adult children living with parents across the Mid West, there is significant pent up demand to tackle,” said Seán Golden, Chief Economist and Director of Policy with Limerick Chamber.
63 per cent of survey participants said they had experienced difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff, with childcare and candidate expectations around flexible working options falling in behind housing as being among the chief barriers to recruitment.
52 per cent of those surveyed considered the cost of living crisis as the top issue currently facing the country’s economy, closely followed by the availability of housing (35 per cent).
Increased energy costs also featured highly among businesses participating in the survey as a leading concern, with 93 percent confirming increases in the cost of energy in recent months. Of that figure, 30 per cent said they saw a 21 to 50 per cent increase in their energy bills.
70 per cent of respondents said they anticipated further hikes in energy costs in the coming six months.
The Business Sentiment Survey is carried out by the Limerick Chamber to gather important data on the challenges faced by businesses across the region and how economic trends are impacting day-to-day trade.
The survey aimed to gauge overall business sentiment in the region, monitor economic trends, and identify key challenges with which businesses may need support.
The Chamber say the survey helps “paint a picture on life in Limerick and the wider Mid West in terms of employers and employees”.
Despite the challenges faced by businesses highlighted in the results of the Chamber’s survey, 59 per cent of businesses said they have expanded the size of their workforce in some regard since the beginning of the year, while 48 per cent said they intended to continue hiring across the next six months.
87 per cent also indicated their intent to invest in their business in the coming six months, suggesting strong stability in the sector. A further 87 per cent said that they did not intend to apply for a business load in the same period, leading the Chamber to speculate that businesses in the region are largely able to self-fund their own investments.
This is compounded by 70 per cent of respondents saying that they consider the present situation of their company to be “good” or “very good”.
Commenting on the findings, Limerick Chamber’s Chief Economist Seán Golden said: “While there is uncertainty out there amongst consumers, the business environment is broadly positive despite substantial increases in cost over the past year.”
“Interestingly, most businesses are operating a hybrid model, although the number has decreased since last year, feeding into demand for office space.
“Ultimately, feedback from this survey has been focused on talent and staffing. With existing skill shortages, most businesses have turned to upskilling existing staff, while the second most popular choice for responding to skill shortages has been to outsource work. Where possible, it is very important that we can keep this outsourcing within the Mid West.”