Recruiters warn staffing shortages threaten economic recovery

Recruiters warn staffing shortages threaten economic recovery

UK recruiters have called on the government to loosen immigration rules, saying a shortage of workers is threatening post-pandemic economic recovery.

Research from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) shows nine in ten recruiters (88%) say that labour shortages are one of their biggest concerns for the remainder of 2021. Three in five (58%) have at least 30% more vacancies than pre-Covid rates.

The membership body said the top sourcing issues were 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%). 

The membership body is now calling on business leaders and the government to take action to solve the issues.

The REC action plan includes creation of a cross-government forum, broadening the apprenticeship levy and increasing funding at lower skills levels. They also call for more flexibility in the immigration system and for businesses to increase their focus on planning, staff engagement and attraction and retention policies.

Kate Shoesmith, deputy CEO of the REC, said: “Worker shortages are a huge problem for employers and their recruitment partners, across all industries and regions. 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.

“As such, we will only solve these shortages through a collaborative approach. We’re glad that multiple government departments are coming together in a joint forum to tackle the issue, but to be effective it must also include business and industry experts.

"Government must allow more flexibility in the immigration system so firms can hire essential workers like drivers from abroad, and also improve training opportunities for lower-paid and temporary workers.

"Meanwhile companies need to focus on how they will attract and retain staff through improved conditions and facilities, not just pay.”

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