Housing seen as top barrier for recruiting staff as 63% of businesses across the Mid-West struggle to attract and retain employees

The majority of business respondents ranked the availability on housing/rental accommodation as the major barrier to filling job vacancies, followed closely by the availability of childcare.

Limerick Chamber has launched the results of its business sentiment survey for Summer 2023. The survey, which closed on the 1st of September,  takes the economic pulse of the whole Mid-West region from a business perspective.   

The findings of the survey report were:

·       59% of businesses have expanded the size of their workforce since January 2023, while 48% intend to continue hiring over the next six months. The expansion of businesses in the Mid-West has been met with challenges in securing skilled labour as 63% of respondents found it difficult to recruit and retain staff.  However, the top barrier to filling vacancies is seen by businesses to be housing, followed by childcare and candidate expectations of flexible working options.

·       Business Position appears healthy, as 87% of respondents intend to invest in their business over the next 6 months. Similarly, another 87% do not intend to apply for a business loan in the next 6 months, meaning that the vast majority can self-fund the investment in their business. Finance is not seen as a major limiting factor, in fact, Demand, Cost of Labour, and Supply Chain Issues are the top three limiting factors, in that order.

·       Overall, business outlook appears positive. 70% consider the present situation of their company to be good / very good as the remainder outline that they consider it satisfactory.

·       Just 15% of respondents require additional office space, while 9% require less office space. 61% of respondents do not require any additional space. This trend comes about as 59% of respondents expect to work a hybrid model, 39% full time in office and 2% fully remote over the coming six months.

·       87% of businesses experienced increased insurance costs, of which 54% experienced a 1% – 10% increase and 28% experienced an 11% -20%.

·       93% experienced increases in their energy costs, of which, 30% experienced a 21% – 50% increase, and 9% experienced a 51%+ increase in energy cost. 70% also foresee increases in supplier prices in the next 6 months.

·       In terms of issues facing the Irish economy, the Increasing Cost of Living (52%) and the supply and Affordability of Housing (35%) prevail as the top issues.


Commenting on the release, Seán Golden, Chief Economist and Director of Policy at Limerick Chamber said

While there is uncertainty out there amongst consumers, the business environment is broadly positive despite substantial increases in cost over the past year.  87% of businesses surveyed plan to invest in their business over the coming six months, with 48% expecting to hire more staff. Interestingly, most businesses are operating a hybrid model, although the number has decreased since last year, this is 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. 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


Commenting on the release, Dee Ryan, Chief Executive at Limerick Chamber said

Most businesses surveyed are reporting issues attracting and retaining skilled workers. Businesses outline the key barrier to attracting workers is the availability of homes to rent and purchase. One of Ireland’s key selling points for both indigenous and international investment has always been our people. However, we have now moved to a position whereby businesses are here, they want to invest, they want to expand their workforce, but housing is emerging as the key barrier to doing so. Despite dealing with a plethora of other issues such as energy costs, insurance costs, wage inflation, upskilling staff, supply chain issues, CSRD reporting etc. businesses also are now closely watching the housing market and how it caters for their teams. We are beginning to see movements in cost rental, this is most welcome and something Limerick Chamber has long been advocating for. However, it is also important to prioritise home ownership, which ensures mixed tenure in developments, gives strong roots to workers in a community but also is sensible financial planning for workers as they consider their housing security at pension age when they potentially are reliant on a state/social welfare pension that may not be able to sustain high rents in retirement


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