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Employee shortage: where have all the workers gone?

The UK could face up to 2 years of labour worker shortages.

The UK currently has a major labour worker issue affecting a number of industries, including construction and manufacturing, and could last for up to two years.

How did this happen?

The blame has mainly been put on a combination of the pandemic and Brexit, which has limited the number of EU workers allowed to work in the UK.

The government’s job retention scheme ending hasn’t helped the job crisis, and coupled with UK lockdowns, there have been over 4 million job losses – mainly in the hospitality and manufacturing sectors.

Now, as things slowly try to return to normality, businesses are crying out for employees, but they have all moved to a different job or don’t want to go back to their old job due to the pandemic fears.

How bad are the staffing levels?

The alarm was sounded mid-way through 2020 when the pandemic first hit, and it has continued to ring until now.

Unemployment levels have dropped to 4.7%, or about 1.6 million people, and staff availability levels are the lowest they’ve been since 1997.

Source: KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs.

KPMG reported that staffing availability or people that are looking for a job has decreased from 77% in January 2020 to just above 25% now, meaning that the UK workforce has shrunk but the levels of jobs to fill has stayed the same.

Worker shortages identified include forklift drivers, fruit and flower pickers, warehouse operatives, cleaners and factory assembly workers, just to name a few.

How are employers getting new workers?

Many employers are now using joining incentives to get new workers into the business. Amazon are offering a £1,000 bonus when joining their warehouse operators’ team and some HGV companies are offering up to £2,000 bonuses to join their team.

Businesses are also offering pay rises to their current employees to keep them from leaving the business as well. It has been reported by recruitment website that the average salaries for hospitality and catering jobs have risen 18% this year, while retail wages are up 10%.

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