Skills shortages, Brexit and low pay mean one in eight struggle to recruit
13% of all business say it’s harder to fill vacancies than usual (up from 9% in August).
The most common reasons were a lack of applicants with the right skills (67%), fewer EU applicants (25%) and the fact that the role isn’t paid enough (15%).
Recruitment is hardest among hospitality businesses (30% are finding it harder to recruit), followed by the water industry (27%) and health (23%).
15% of transport and storage businesses are struggling to recruit. Half say fewer EU applicants is a factor (46%).
There were a record 1,034,000 vacancies in the UK between June and August.The ONS released an article on recruitment struggles this morning: Hospitality businesses are most likely to be struggling to fill vacancies – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown: “More than one in eight businesses are fighting a losing battle to recruit the right people. The world of work has shifted, and there aren’t enough applicants with the right skills. Meanwhile, Brexit has persuaded many EU workers to leave the UK, and in some industries, people just aren’t willing to do the work for the pay on offer.
It makes life nigh-on impossible for recruiters. Part of the problem is that the world of work is changing. Retailers, for example, have had to close stores and lay staff off as footfall dropped, then to meet the needs of more online demand they’ve opened new distribution hubs and hired more warehouse staff and drivers. It means booming demand in some areas and shrinking in others, and staff may not have the skills or the inclination to make the move.
They also face the enormous challenge of recruiting after so many EU nationals have left the country. In a post Brexit world, some wanted to be closer to family or to work in an environment that allowed more freedom of movement. The number of EU nationals working in the UK fell by 8.7% in the early months of the pandemic (while the total number in employment overall fell 2.4%).
Even now, many of them haven’t returned. In the transport and storage industry the number of EU HGV drivers fell by 43% in the year to the end of March. This is likely to owe something to the difficulties and delays caused by working with new systems, which they don’t face when working within the EU.
Among the available talent pool, some firms struggle with the fact that the pay isn’t good enough to attract staff. This is a particular problem for professional, scientific and technical roles. It’s also something regularly faced by businesses paying minimum wage for difficult work – such as care.
We’ve already seen this theme emerge in company reports, where businesses ranging from hospitality to computer games development have raised concerns about recruiting difficulties. In some cases, this means businesses are struggling to operate effectively, which in turn is putting the brakes on GDP.
We’re also hearing reports of wage increases to attract staff, and while this is good news for those in underpaid careers, it causes issues for employers, who are seeing a squeeze on all of their costs, so a higher wage bill is the last thing they need.”