THE North-East's skills shortage is deepening, according to a business survey.

Lloyds TSB Corporate's Business in Britain report showed that, despite mixed messages on the economy and state of the market, employers are struggling to find the right staff.

Mike Stubbins, senior manager for Lloyds TSB Corporate, said: "The UK's failure in the last ten years to bridge the skills gap clearly poses a threat to continued economic growth.

"Construction firms in particular are finding it tough to get their hands on skilled workers. For people thinking of taking up professions such as plumbing and bricklaying the prospect of earning good money comes only after a long training period and this can act as a deterrent.

"Meanwhile, government moves to redress the balance of the education system's focus between academic and vocational skills are taking too long to make a significant impact."