Engineering and technical skills are the hardest for employers to find, despite continued job losses in manufacturing, the quarterly Reed Skills Index has found.
More than half the manufacturers surveyed said they had problems recruiting technical staff.
Across the whole economy, skills shortages rose for the first time in two years, the study reported. The number of manufacturers reporting recruitment difficulties jumped to 56% from 53%.
Larger employers are bearing the brunt of the shortage, with three out of five reporting recruitment problems. The dearth of skills is worst in Scotland and the Midlands.
Almost three-quarters of organisations in the two regions reported recruitment problems. The figure fell to 53% in London.
The public sector is particularly badly affected. Lower rates of pay and poorer conditions are blamed by employers in the sector for the rise.