The county's leading business organisation is predicting employers will find it difficult to recruit staff this year.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce says the latest quarterly economic survey carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce found that 81 per cent of manufacturing firms and 70 per cent of service businesses of the 6,000 businesses asked struggled to recruit in the final three months of 2018.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “For manufacturers across the UK, finding staff is as difficult now as it has been at any point since the survey began 30 years ago.

“In parts of Cumbria it’s tougher still. Eden and South Lakeland have the lowest unemployment rates in the UK.

“We don’t see this changing any time soon given that Cumbria has a super-ageing population.

"We have more people retiring than there are young people joining the workforce, so the county’s working-age population is shrinking.”

The chamber is encouraging employers to be more flexible and innovative in searching for potential recruits.

The survey's latest findings suggest that inflationary pressures are building again with a sharp increase in the number of businesses expecting to raise prices in the next three months.

Price rises are being driven by the weak pound, which has pushed up the cost of imported goods and raw materials.

Growth and investment remain muted.

Mr Johnston said: “While the economy isn’t contracting, it’s not growing robustly either. Given the continuing uncertainty around what sort of Brexit we’re going to get, it’s no surprise that firms are reporting weak domestic demand and investment.

“The Government has to act now to turbo-charge business confidence. Its priority must be to provide clarity on conditions in the near term and avoid a messy and disorderly Brexit.”