Acute shortages of workers in sectors from haulage to hospitality were caused by Brexit and Covid-19.
As Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have caused acute shortages of workers in sectors ranging from haulage to hospitality and social care, over the next 12 months, the majority of UK employers are planning to hire staff, the highest recruitment intentions in eight years.
A survey by the recruitment firm Hays shows that 80% of businesses and other organizations are planning to take on more staff over the next 12 months. Scotland and Wales have particularly high recruitment intentions where 88% plan to hire over the next 12 months, followed by 87% in the East of England and 85% in London.
Just over two-thirds (67%) of employers who are hiring are looking for permanent staff, while a third are recruiting for temporary positions; and more than a quarter (28%) are hiring for fully remote roles.
The number of people working from home has escalated because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many workers have returned to the office since lockdowns measures have eased but not fully – many split their time between home and the office.
In the next 12 months, coincidentally, more than half of the professionals plan to move jobs, the lowest number reported in the survey by recruitment firm Hays in eight years.
The research comes as job vacancies in the UK hit 1.1M between July and September, the highest level since records began in 2001, according to official figures. Staff shortages have reached the highest levels in decades threatening the economy’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, in the fallout from Brexit, which has led to scores of foreign workers leaving the country, and the pandemic.
Of 22,700 employers and professionals accounted for by the Hays survey, more than three-quarters of employers experienced skills shortages in the past year, up from 67% in 2021. Almost half said this hurt productivity and a similar number said it has affected morale among employees, up from 37% last year.
To tackle the shortages, 44% have hired temporary or contract workers; 22% have advanced their marketing spending to attract talent; 21% say they have recruited apprentices and 20% have re-skilled existing staff into a new position. About a quarter say they are more likely to offer counter-offers to staff than before the pandemic.
Simon Winfield, managing director of Hays UK & Ireland, said:
“Employers searching for skilled talent has intensified further, due to the quick rebound in the economy, existing skills shortages, and in some areas, such as construction, workers returning to the EU as a result of Covid-19 restrictions and Brexit. Almost every employer is facing the same challenges in finding the skills they need, and we’re seeing areas of real demand in technology, construction, engineering, and marketing, where employers can’t hire quickly enough.”
Staff shortages are rippling out from the haulage, farming, and hospitality sectors to almost all parts of the economy, putting “severe pressure” on medium-sized businesses across the UK, a report from the accountancy and advisory firm BDO found earlier this month.
A fuel crisis triggered by a shortage of truck and fuel drivers in recent weeks, when many petrol stations ran dry amid panic-buying and have also left some supermarket shelves empty. Tesco has even begun using cardboard cutouts of fruit, vegetables, and other groceries to fill gaps on shelves. Amid an online shopping boom, Britain is estimated to be short of 100,000 lorry drivers.
One in four firms experiencing recruitment challenges cited a reduced number of EU applicants, a recent report from the Office for National Statistics showed. This rose to almost one in two in transport and storage businesses.
The government has been called upon by business leaders to expand the visa system to allow employers to hire more staff from overseas as a short-term fix. The government has only granted 5,000 extra temporary visas to lorry drivers and a further 5,500 to poultry workers. However, take-up has been woefully low.