The Staffing Crisis Continues

The number of UK job vacancies are at a record high, with many industries reporting difficulties in recruiting new staff.
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It’s not unfamiliar to the industry that the struggle to employ staff is getting increasingly more difficult as the weeks go on. Businesses are having to reduce opening hours, turn to takeout only or shutting down completely. What impact will this have on the industry for the future? 

The Office for National Statistics said the number of payroll employees increased by 241,000 to 29.1 million in August, lifting employment in all regions of the UK to pre-Covid levels except in London, Scotland and south-east England.

It came as the number of job vacancies soared to more than 1m in August for the first time since official records began in 2001, rising by 35% in the space of three months across all sectors of the British economy.

ONS recently issued survey results which showed;

Hospitality businesses are most likely to be struggling to fill vacancies;

  • Between 23 August and 5 September 2021, 30% of hospitality businesses said that vacancies were more difficult to fill than normal, this compares with 13% across all industries
  • Aside from hospitality (30%), the water (27%) and health (23%) industries were most likely to be finding it more difficult than normal to recruit staff in late August.

Moreover, with the departure of many EU applicants it is also contributing to recruitment challenges, especially within the transport and storage industries. 

Businesses across all industries have reported that the main reason for being unable to fill vacancies in late August 2021 is due to the lack of skills and unsuitability for the roles being applied for, with transport and storage firms the most likely to cite a lack of EU applicants specifically.

Of all businesses that were experiencing recruitment challenges, 

  • One in four (25%) said that a reduced number of EU applicants was a factor. This rises to almost one in two (46%) transport and storage businesses, the highest of any sector

Some EU workers have left the labour market during COVID-19. The number of EU nationals employed in the UK fell;

  •  8.7% between January to March 2020 and April to June 2021. Meanwhile, the total number of people in employment fell by 2.4% over the same period.

The number of job vacancies is rising quickly as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

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There were 1,034,000 job vacancies in the UK in June to August 2021, an increase of 35.2% (269,300) on the previous quarter and the highest since the series began in 2001.

The hospitality and transport and storage industries were among those who suffered the highest number of vacancies in June to August, with job openings up by 59.1% and 32.5% respectively compared with pre-pandemic (January to March 2020).

How long will it take to evolve from this period of staffing crisis? As we know, our economy is changing rapidly. Ultimately, each of these levers – the immigration system, the skills system, the apprenticeship levy, the kickstart scheme, all play a part in getting the economy on the right track and to help overcome the staffing crisis. 

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