The report, by multi-discipline recruitment specialist, Search Consultancy, also added that on average, businesses in the industry are18% understaffed with the average lead time to hire a suitable candidate standing at just below four months.

The full list, which ranks sectors from most to least affected by the skills shortage, is engineering and manufacturing at 85%.

The research also looks into the causes of the skills shortage in the engineering & manufacturing industry and the impact it is having on businesses. Of those surveyed, 40% say that a simple lack of qualified candidates is the main contributing factor. A further third of managers cite a lack of willing apprentices as a major issue and 29% list an aging workforce as a cause for concern.

As a result of the skills shortage in their industries, 40% of managers say staff have to work longer hours with one in five facing larger operational costs. One third of managers surveyed admit to having a disengaged workforce and a further 31% are unable to fulfil work commitments to clients and customers.

Rich Westhead, managing director of engineering & manufacturing at Search Consultancy, said: “The food & drink sector is the UK’s largest manufacturing industry and the demand for staff currently exceeds supply.

"The significant growth and continual focus on new products in this sector also means there is an increase in food science and new product developments roles which are amongst the most difficult to recruit. Engineering roles still remain as the key skill shortage within the industry.

“Working closely with businesses, we are shifting the focus to be on the employees of a organisation, not just to offer a competitive salary but also on the soft benefits that candidates are increasingly interested ln.

"Whether this is a solid work/life balance or the potential to pursue ongoing training whilst on the job, it is important we show people that a career in engineering & manufacturing is engaging, innovative and provides candidates with limitless potential to grow..”

To support organisations impacted by the skills shortage, Search Consultancy has curated advice from business leaders within its “Mind the Skills Gap” report.