Wednesday, June 16

UK ‘Faces Labor Shortage’ As Covid and Brexit Fuel Exodus of Foreign Workers | Economic Sciences

Britain’s employers are scrambling to hire staff as the lockdown is lifted amid the exodus of overseas workers caused by the Covid pandemic and Brexit, industry figures reveal.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and recruiting firm Adecco, employers plan to hire at the fastest rate in eight years, led by the hospitality and retail sectors reopening as they relax. pandemic restrictions in England and Wales. Monday.

However, in a sign of mounting pressures in the labor market amid rapid growth in consumer spending, the professional body for HR and people development said there had been a sharp decline in the number of workers. the EU, fueling the risk of labor shortages.

Separate figures from Adzuna showed rapid growth in hiring, with nearly 1 million job openings listed on the jobs website, up 18% from six weeks ago amid a surge in hotel, restaurant and industry jobs. of events and leisure. But he warned that there had been a sharp drop in interest from overseas job seekers.

The jobs website, which is tracked by government officials for early warning signs from the labor market, found that the number of overseas job searches from Western Europe and North America had halved, a decrease of approximately 250,000, as of February 2020, just before Covid-19. it spread to the UK.

He said the decline was being driven in particular by foreign interest in sectors led by typically lower-paid services, while some towns and cities have as many as 20 jobs on offer per job seeker. According to research, Maidstone in Kent is the hardest place to hire, followed by Manchester, Cambridge and Oxford.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of the job search engine, said: “There is great competition for staff, with many hospitality and retail industry workers leaving the industry to seek safer work after the ups and downs of last year.

“There are also far fewer foreign workers seeking employment in the UK, and interest in UK jobs abroad has more than halved since before the pandemic, hitting these industries hard. . UK employers can no longer rely on foreign workers to fill employment gaps. “

Emerging evidence of a UK labor shortage comes as American employers are also struggling to recruit staff, with job seekers putting off hospitality jobs, particularly due to low pay, safety concerns and the harassment of customers by Covid security measures.

Business leaders have warned that the lack of overseas workers after the shutdown would put a “hand brake on the recovery,” with as many as An estimated 1.3 million have left the UK since the end of 2019. as many returned to their country of birth to see through the pandemic at home.

Gerwyn Davies, senior labor market advisor at CIPD, the professional body for human resource and people development, said: “New limits on the supply of unskilled migrant labor and the shift to new ways of working present to many employers an incentive to review quality work. “

According to the CIPD survey of more than 1,000 UK employers, the balance of employers hoping to add jobs, compared to those planning to eliminate them, was 27% for the second quarter of 2021, down from 11% in the first three months of the year. . He said this was the highest level since February 2013.

Unemployment in the UK has leveled off in recent months, helped by the extension of the leave plan until the end of September, after the fastest rise in layoffs recorded in late 2020 when Rishi Sunak tried to scrap the wage support plan. .

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The Bank of England expects the unemployment rate to peak at almost 5.5% after the leave ends, below initial fears of a repeat of the 1980s, when unemployment rose close to 12%. . Unemployment was 4% before the pandemic, representing about 1.3 million people.

Davies said companies should respond to the “emerging threat of hiring difficulties” by improving their employment conditions, such as training opportunities and the right balance between flexibility and security.

“By offering better quality jobs, employers will be in a better position to attract and retain the staff they need, particularly in sectors that have traditionally relied on EU workers, whose supply has dropped dramatically,” he said.

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