Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK are reporting high levels of vacancies as many consider switching to a four-day work week.

Independent research commissioned by Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing shows that 59% of those surveyed had vacancies to fill. 

A sector-wise analysis shows that roles in engineering (69%) and transport & haulage (67%) were above the national average. 

The findings come at a time when the unemployment rate in the UK is close to its lowest since the 1970s.

The research stated that 51% of the respondents found it difficult to fill vacancies in the past 12 months. 

Furthermore, the time taken to fill the roles ranges from 30 days to more than four months, and 46% of respondents said it took them two to three months to fill the vacancies. 

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By GlobalData

For 36% of SMEs, the duration was 30 days and for 13% of the employers, the time taken was more than four months. 

The findings also reveal that two in five respondents feel that the sector faces a skills crisis. 

Regarding the four-day work week, 52% of those polled said they have either adopted (19%) the new arrangement or are considering (33%) it. 

The research found that 41% of employers are not considering it and the rest are not sure about it. 

Close Brothers commercial division CEO Neil Davies said: “Small businesses are facing a multitude of pressures, but one thing we do know and understand is how resilient they are.

“There are many options available to employees and employers are having to be creative to ensure they can attract the talent they need to guarantee success.”