Fallout from Brexit and the pandemic has led to more vacancies than applicants, but paying extra is not a long-term option
When the Office for National Statistics published its latest job vacancies data this week, it exposed the post-pandemic recruitment challenges facing most businesses. The number of unfilled positions in the UK increased by 20,000 between March and May to a record 1.3 million, while in the three months from February to April the unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 per cent, the lowest since 1974.
“For the first time since records began there are fewer unemployed people than job vacancies,” said Jack Kennedy, a UK economist at the job-listing platform Indeed. “That marks a dramatic turnaround from last summer when there were four unemployed people per vacancy. It also highlights the extreme tightness of the labour market, which has been fuelling hiring difficulties across many sectors.”
Cleaning, construction, warehouse, manufacturing and hospitality roles are all receiving lower interest levels on average than before the pandemic, he added. Brexit is exacerbating the challenges for sectors that relied on workers from the European Union.
The lack of flexible working in these roles, in comparison with desk-based jobs, is another factor, as is the number of people opting for early retirement.
The pandemic “put the brakes on decades of improvement” in employment rates among those in their fifties and sixties, said Ian Nicholas, the global managing director at the employment agency Reed. “The number of people in this age group who are not even looking for work has risen by 228,000,” he said, adding that companies should encourage older staff to stay in work to share knowledge and engage with younger members of the workforce.
This article was first published in The Times in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE (note: it is behind a paywall).