'Need action' | WORST staff shortages since 1990s spark need for 'development & upskilling'

WORST staff shortages since 1990s spark need for 'development & upskilling'

As employers struggle with the worst labour shortages since the late 1990s, experts are saying this is a recruitment crisis that needs upskilling, training and development action.

Speaking to The Guardian, Claire Warnes, Head of Education, Skills and Productivity said that upskilling and training could be the way to get around this difficult period.

She said: “We need action from businesses and government to reskill and upskill furloughed and prospective workers now more than ever, as the increasing skills gap in the workforce has the potential to slow the UK’s economic recovery.”

Staff shortages

Her comments come as available workers plunged in June at the fastest rate since 1997, according to The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG.

According to reports, there are acute hiring challenges in transport and logistics, hospitality, manufacturing and construction.

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These struggles were also making their way to traditional white collar sectors such as finance, IT and accounting.

These struggles are exacerbated by a rush to reopen as lockdown restrictions ease, fewer EU workers travel to the country due to COVID-19 border controls and post-Brexit immigration rules.

Demand soars

Yet, these struggles come at the same time as demand soars – with online job adverts in manufacturing, warehouse work and logistics soaring above 2019 demand.

It also comes as unemployment rates fall. Although it is predicated that unemployment rates would rise after furlough ends, to circa 5.5%, this is well below expectations of 12%, cited last year.

Skills difficulties

According to one expert, speaking in The Guardian, this skills issue existed before the pandemic but has been exacerbated by it.

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the BCC, said: “The encouraging increase in job creation across the manufacturing and services sectors is being held back by recruitment difficulties at all skill levels, jeopardising growth and productivity.”

As employers and the Government grapples with this issue, many are touring changes to skills approaches – including relaxing Brexit immigration rules and investment in development and upskilling from the Government.

Changes in pay and conditions could also change the skills availability landscape as could the end of furlough.

Neil Carberry, CEO at REC, said: “The jobs market is improving at the fastest pace we have ever seen, but it is still an unpredictable time.

“We can’t yet tell how much the ending of furlough and greater candidate confidence will help to meet this rising demand for staff,” he added.

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