A shortage of skilled workers in some industries is a "looming problem", a new report has warned ahead of the latest unemployment figures.
A study by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) found that around a third of firms had no spare capacity in their workforce and would have to hire new staff if work increased.
The poll of 2,000 employers showed that one in five had increased staffing levels in the past year, compared with 12% which had cut jobs.
One in four said the economy was starting to pick up, but concerns were raised about a shortage of skilled workers for jobs in engineering, computing and education.
Kate Shoesmith, head of policy at the REC, said: " Employers' inability to improve their workforce productivity without hiring new staff is likely to suppress pay growth in the foreseeable future as they invest in increasing headcount rather than pay packets.
"Starting salaries and hourly pay rates will rise in certain areas where skilled candidates are scarce and companies have to compete for talent.
"The shortage of candidates with the skills required for a growing number of vacancies is a looming problem. Politicians and business leaders need to work together to find solutions to the mismatch between what employers need and what jobseekers have to offer.
"Training for young people, world class careers advice and a supportive immigration policy are three areas where immediate action is needed to ensure UK businesses can compete in the world economy."
Last month's official jobless figures showed a fall of 99,000 in the quarter to October to 2.39 million, with a 36,700 cut in the numbers claiming jobseeker's allowance in November.
Analysts expect a similar trend in today's data from the Office for National Statistics.