What’s happening with recruitment?

As the country has been opening up worries have shifted in part from lack of jobs to lack of staff. What does this mean for candidates?

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More and more figures are coming out on the recruitment front showing skills shortages in a broad range of areas.

According to the latest Jobs Report from KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation accountants, engineers, drivers, nurses and retail and hospitality workers were all among the professions where businesses have highlighted skills shortages in recent weeks. Although some of these, particularly nursing, have had skills shortages for many years, the report puts the current problems down to several factors: the number of people still on furlough, Brexit and fears about moving jobs due to ongoing Covid uncertainty.

The furlough and uncertainty issue seem short term ones, but Brexit will have much longer term implications. Talking to friends who are from the EU the other day the general gist is that many people decided that if they were going to be furloughed for several months they would prefer to do so in their home country and that that period at home has caused many to rethink whether they want to remain in the UK. Even Tim Martin from Weatherspoons man, a staunch Brexiter, is calling for an EU visa to fill shortages, but it’s going to take more than a visa to attract people back. News of detentions on the border has not been helping people to feel they might be welcome in the UK. Another long-standing issue is our changing demographics: an ageing population and the need to keep people in the workforce for longer.

In the short term at least, businesses will have to do a lot more to reach out to people to plug the gaps. During Covid there were fears that the tables had turned and, where some companies had pulled out more stops to employ women, for instance, they might no longer have to do so amid rising unemployment. Yet the underlying trend of skills shortages appears to be very much still with us and could stop businesses from scaling up or even keeping going in a worst case scenario. Another issue for working parents is, of course, childcare infrastructure.

So the so-called ‘war for talent’ seems to be here to stay. That means employers will need to up their game to compete. Already we are seeing signs of rising salaries in the private sector. Of course, the outlook is different in different sectors and different regions and there’s still the worry that unemployment will rise significantly when the furlough scheme comes to an end [and that this could affect the lowest paid most], when the Government starts to claw back the money spent and if Covid uncertainty remains. Increasing use of automation is also expected as employers seek to solve their short-term problems and stay afloat.

Trying to predict beyond the shortest term with any degree of certainty is a foolish activity these days, but for the moment it seems to be, in certain sectors, a candidate’s market.

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