Hiring is tough and getting tougher

Danni Hewson
16 September 2021
  • 41% of businesses struggled to recruit in late August
  • Hospitality facing the biggest challenges
  • 46% of Transport and Storage companies cite lack of EU workers as an issue

Danni Hewson, AJ Bell financial analyst, comments on the latest ONS vacancy survey:

“The labour shortage has been tough for businesses trying to capitalise on post lockdown trade and it doesn’t show any sign of getting better in a hurry, in fact the situation only seems be getting more acute.  It’s no surprise to see hospitality topping the list of those struggling to recruit.  Restrictions meant they were late to the party and many people who used to work in bars and restaurants found other jobs to pay the bills, jobs that often have more sociable hours.  There’s also a niggling uncertainty amongst the public that we’ve really seen an end to restrictions and most people believe that any spike in COVID cases would result in hospitality being forced to close once again.

“Anyone who has shopped for groceries recently will have experienced a nasty moment at the till when they’ve realised how much more expensive food is becoming and the HGV driver shortage has been a key factor in those price rises.  Almost half of businesses in the transport and storage sector said that a lack of EU workers was to blame for the shortages and across the board one in four businesses said a fall in the number of EU applicants was an issue.

“It’s hard to know how big a part Brexit has played because the waters have been well and truly muddied by the pandemic.  It’s also impossible to guess how the end of the furlough scheme will change the picture.  Some jobs will be lost, and some workers will be brought back into the labour market where they will be received with open arms if the latest recruitment drive by John Lewis is anything to go by.

“There’s also the issue of geography.  London’s been slow to get back on the pace and changes in the housing market suggest some workers have moved out of the capital and are unlikely to return. There will be a period of adjustment as businesses work out how levels of trade have been affected and what a hybrid working pattern could mean long term.

“A skill disconnect has always troubled the UK and some businesses are already altering their hiring focus with an eye on up-skilling people to do the job they need doing.  In the long term the glut of vacancies can only go two ways.  Either more workers will be brought into the UK workforce through harnessing the economically inactive or making it easier for employers to bring in staff from other countries; or employers will be forced to move operations to places where the workforce is more plentiful.”

Danni Hewson
Financial Analyst

Danni spent more than 19 years at the BBC, presenting and reporting on business news across a variety of programmes – including BBC Breakfast, BBC News Channel, BBC Look North and latterly Radio 5 Live’s flagship business programme ‘Wake up to Money’. She is now responsible for producing analysis and commentary across a broad range of subjects at AJ Bell, from financial markets, to economics and personal finance.

Contact details

Mobile: 07593 451 437
Email: danni.hewson@ajbell.co.uk

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