Shortage of workers is hampering recruitment

Shortage of workers is hampering recruitment

The UK faces a perfect storm as a shortage of workers in the labour force threatens to derail plans to bounce back after Brexit and Covid. In addition, the end of the furlough scheme could put many companies in jeopardy while releasing some workers from their roles.

Shortage of workers brexit


Jobs might be available in some sectors, but this doesn’t mean there are skilled workers available to fill them. There is also an increased demand for labour by companies that it’s hard to find qualified workers. This is having an impact on the recruitment sector as they struggle to find suitable candidates for roles.

Recruiters chasing a smaller pool of workers

The number of job vacancies in the UK hit an average of 953,000 in July 2021. Compare this to the height of the coronavirus pandemic when job vacancies fell to just 341,000.

Unemployment is currently at 4.8%, but this number may be kept artificially low by extending the furlough scheme. However, once this ends, we could see a sharp rise in unemployment figures.

Jobs might be out there, but this doesn’t mean the right workers are applying. So what does this mean for recruiters? This means they have to define who would be a good fit for a role and what specific criteria will set the candidate apart from others. They also need a better way of identifying gaps in knowledge.

While many have attempted to re-train, up-skill and change career paths while furloughed, it also means they don’t have any on-the-job experience. This leaves recruiters with the problem of having to read deeper into work and training history to determine if a worker could be the right fit for a company.

Workers don’t necessarily have the right skills

Another common problem facing the recruitment sector is the issue of skills gaps in many key sectors. Brexit could be to blame for this, but the pandemic worsened problems. Around 1.3 million people had left the UK by the end of 2020.

Migration from the EU started to decrease following the Brexit vote and then dropped dramatically after 31 January 2020. Many of these workers are highly skilled and leave behind job openings that can’t easily be filled by those looking for work.

The end of the furlough scheme might free up a lot of workers to seek new opportunities. But if they don’t have the right skills, training and experience, we could have high unemployment and high job vacancies.

Training doesn’t happen overnight

The UK needs more skilled workers to fill all those vacancies. Unfortunately, training has been put on the back-burner as the country struggled with the pandemic. As training courses went online, many delayed their courses. There has been a lull in training, and it will take time to get back to pre-furlough numbers.

The end of the furlough scheme could put many UK companies at risk as we face a perfect storm of a shortage of workers. The rise in job vacancies, fall in skilled workers and demand for qualified workers makes the recruitment sector struggle.

Even the shortage of HGV drivers can be linked to a backlog of driving tests. Since driving tests need to be completed in person and many test centres were closed for the duration of lockdown, it could take some time to work to return to pre-pandemic workloads.

Highly specialised recruiters such as Nolan Recruitment are facing a unique challenge. It takes a skilled recruiter to be able to identify the best applications from a pile of hundreds. But recruiters will also have to rely on their professional networking skills. Some skilled workers may be tempted away from existing roles by the prospect of higher salaries and more benefits, which are sure to be on the cards if current skill shortages continue.