It’s hard to believe, bearing in mind the pandemic and the numbers who were out of work or furloughed as a result, but as a nation we are facing a shortage of candidates.
Not all sectors are equally affected, but some – hospitality for example – are finding it very difficult to recruit.
A number of companies are resorting to new tactics to tempt in workers. For example, steakhouse Hawksmoor has offered employees up to £2,000 if they recruit friends. Another restaurant chain, Caravan, has emailed customers offering a £100 gift card if they can recommend new staff.
We should give a mention here to our own referral scheme, at 24-7 Staffing. We reward candidates with £100 worth of Amazon vouchers if they refer a friend (Ts & Cs apply).
There is a general call across the hospitality sector for an Australian style visa to help temporarily plug the shortage of staff. Nationally there has been a skills shortage for some time, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC – the recruitment industry’s representative body – said recently: “As pandemic restrictions have lifted, we have seen an explosion in job vacancies as companies rush to hire ahead of re-opening… make no mistake – the jobs market is still more active than we have seen in 18 months.”
He added: “Employers do have some concerns about the rise in Covid cases… But by far their biggest worry right now is the shortage of candidates for jobs. The pandemic has made existing skill and labour shortages in the UK worse. Governments and business need to work together to ensure access to training opportunities and unemployment support so that there are pathways for everyone into growing sectors.”
Why is there a shortage of candidates
There are a number of factors at play here.
The pandemic has reduced the normal job-seeking activity, with those who might otherwise start looking for new opportunities choosing to remain in their posts, including many on furlough. The pandemic has also given people cause to evaluate their work/life balance, taking some out of the job market as a result.
But the biggest impact is from the combined effect of Brexit and Covid, both of which have seen migrant workers returning to their home countries. The tap has effectively been turned off for any new migrants, who were fulfilling many of the roles that are now vacant. Limits on international travel, due to Covid restrictions, are further preventing workers coming from overseas.
Resolving the candidate shortage
To help ease the labour shortage, the EU visa scheme could be revised, to make it accessible to workers in sectors where there is a shortfall, such as lorry drivers, care workers, hospitality staff, agriculture and warehouse staff.
Another option might be to look at wages. The prospect of higher wages encourages people to start looking for new jobs or to get back into employment, and also enables employers to attract quality candidates. Of course, there is a risk attached to this of resolving the shortage in one sector, by increasing wages, but pushing that onto another sector, where wages remain lower. In the short-term, however, wage rises may provide part of the solution.
Longer term, investing in training will help upskill the national workforce, plugging some of the skills gaps and we’d call on the Government to do more in this area.
We’d also urge the Government to look at ways of getting unemployed people into work. The Kickstart Scheme, set up to help employers take on 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit, is a good example of this.
In the meantime, for those employers looking for staff, working in partnership with a knowledgeable recruiter will speed up the recruitment process and help fill vacancies.
To talk to the team at 24-7 Staffing – Wiltshire’s leading independent recruiter, working across Wiltshire, Bristol, Salisbury and the South West – please get in touch.
If you would like to sign up to 24-7 Staffing as a candidate – especially if you are looking for work in the driving, commercial, healthcare or industrial sectors – then you can register here with our online portal.