Jobs up, but applicant shortages highlighted

The number of jobs advertised continues to rise, but employers are worried about filling vacancies due to a lack of overseas staff.

women working in catering


Tens of thousands of restaurant, hotel, event and leisure jobs are available in England, but jobseeker shortages are making these jobs hard to fill, according to new research.

Job search engine Adzuna says job adverts have increased rapidly since the stay at home order was lifted at the end of March, climbing 18% from the end of March to the first week of May, due in large part to hiring surges in Hospitality & Catering, Retail & Leisure.

Since restrictions began easing, the five sectors seeing fastest recovery are: Hospitality & Catering (+188% since the end of March); Logistics & Warehouse (+36%); Retail (+33%); Legal (+31%); and Manufacturing (+27%).

The hiring environment is becoming tighter with fewer overseas jobseekers applying for UK jobs, contributing to an overall supply shortage, says Adzuna. Total jobseekers from North America and Western Europe searching for jobs in the UK fell more than 50% between February ‘20 and April ‘21.

This decline has been led by falling overseas jobseeker interest in service-led industries in particular, with Brexit and Covid affecting foreign workers’ availability. However, searches for healthcare roles have remained steady.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, says: “We’re approaching the milestone of 1 million jobs in the UK, thanks to rapid hiring over recent weeks ready for the final lifting of lockdown restrictions. In particular, retailers and restaurants & bars are hiring at pace for the reopening – though there is hot competition for staff, with many Hospitality and Retail workers having left the industry to look for more secure work after the ups and downs of the last year. There are also far fewer foreign workers seeking employment in the UK, with overseas interest in UK jobs more than halving from before the pandemic, hitting these industries hard. UK employers can no longer rely on overseas workers to plug employment gaps.”

Meanwhile, the CIPD/Adecco Labour Market Outlook report says UK employers are the most optimistic about hiring in eight years and that all sectors are experiencing a jobs recovery, alongside an improvement in pay prospects.

The report, which surveyed more than 1,000 UK employers, also says basic pay expectations set to increase from 1% to 2% in the next 12 months. Median basic pay expectations in the private sector have increased from 1.5% to 2% on the previous quarter. By comparison, median basic pay expectations in the public sector in the next 12 months stand at 0.9%.

The survey also found that redundancy and recruitment intentions have returned to pre-pandemic levels this quarter:

  • The proportion of organisations planning to recruit in the three months to June 2021 has risen to 64% – the highest level since the February 2020 Labour Market Outlook.
  • There has been a sharp increase in hiring intentions among the worst affected sectors during the pandemic. For example, over two-thirds (66%) of hospitality firms plan to recruit in the second quarter of 2021, up from a third (36%) in the first quarter of 2021.
  • The proportion of employers intending to make redundancies continues to fall. Just over one in ten (12%) expect to cut jobs during the next three months, down from 20% in the previous quarter. This is consistent across all three sectors of the economy, says the CIPD.

The survey comes as unions and tax experts call for greater regulation of the UK’s temporary labour market amid concerns that abuses by so-called umbrella companies may be costing workers and the Exchequer up to £4.5bn a year. Umbrella companies, which are used by recruitment agencies and companies to cut temporary payroll costs, can provide useful services for contractors, but industry experts and the TUC fear they are increasingly being used to diminish workers’ rights and misappropriate cash via unpaid wages and tax fraud. Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, said regulation of umbrella companies was “long overdue”. The TUC is also calling for action to prevent employers for firing and rehiring workers.

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