Recruiters concerned labour shortages are putting economic recovery at risk

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Recruitment crisis: finding front of house staff is a challenge for the hospitality sector (credit: Getty/andresr)
Recruitment crisis: finding front of house staff is a challenge for the hospitality sector (credit: Getty/andresr)

Related tags Staff Recruitment

Nine in 10 recruiters (88%) say that labour shortages are one of their biggest concerns for the remainder of 2021, while skills shortages are a major concern for two in three (65%).

The hospitality sector has been heavily hit by the shortage of labour. 

Last month is was revealed that the tourism and recreation sector, including the pub market, saw growth rates ease​, as the impact of staff shortages took hold.

A recent survey of 350 companies revealed that every business in the hospitality sector​ has job roles to be filled with recruitment for front-of-house staff at the fore.

However, shortages are hitting every sector of the economy with many staffing companies reporting the tightest labour market they’ve ever experienced, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) has said. It is calling on business and the government to take urgent action to solve the problem.

Record high vacancies

It said that recruiters have a “significantly higher number” of roles to fill than before the pandemic, with three in five (58%) having at least 30% more vacancies than pre-Covid. 

Recruiters reported a number of factors were affecting their ability to source candidates. The top reason was skills shortages (cited by 65% of respondents), followed by the new immigration rules (57%) and their clients not being able to offer competitive salaries (53%).

Almost every respondent to the REC survey (97%) said that it was taking longer than usual to fill those vacancies, compounding the problem. Half (50%) reported that it now takes more than a month to find suitable candidates.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality said: “These findings are incredibly timely as we have seen a record high in vacancies across the economy. Hospitality was amongst the last sectors to emerge from restrictions and we are still playing catch-up. Yet it is clear that these labour shortages are affecting many sectors. 

“A collaborative approach must be taken to tackle the causes of these. Some of these measures will be long-term – through reforms to education, careers advice and training – but Government also has the opportunity to look at shorter-term issues, such as the operation of the Kickstart scheme and immigration policy post-pandemic.”

Recovery at risk

Kate Shoesmith, deputy CEO of the REC, said that the shortages were causing problems across all industries and regions. 

She said: “Vacancy numbers are far higher than pre-pandemic, and it is taking much longer to fill them. This is putting the recovery at risk by putting capacity constraints on the economy, as last week’s GDP figures showed. In our survey, recruiters also highlighted a wide range of factors that have combined to cause these shortages – this is a complex problem with no one easy fix.” 

She added that Government allow more flexibility so employers can hire essential workers like drivers from abroad, and also improve training opportunities for lower-paid and temporary workers. 

The REC surveyed 191 recruitment professionals between 12 August and 10 September 2021.

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