MD Anthony McCormack discusses the growing skills shortage in the UK economy and argues that neither of the two main political parties actually want to get it resolved.
The current skills shortage in the UK is a perfect political storm and I am not sure if either of the two main political parties have the will to get it resolved.
We are seeing daily reports of drastic skills shortages in certain sectors of the economy with the situation surrounding lorry drivers and hospitality staff being particularly high profile.
Many of those jobs traditionally would have been filled by foreign workers but Brexit led to many of those workers returning ‘home’. Those same workers are still unsure of coming back to the UK because of the political climate and, even if they wanted to, the pandemic has made travelling through borders incredibly difficult.
Meanwhile, a large section of domestic workers have been placed on furlough and some of them don’t want to go back to their current job, especially with up to 80% of their wages being paid for by the Government while they stay at home.
Then, there is the situation with people like chefs who represent another area of labour shortage in the market. They have been shut out by the pandemic, lockdowns and closure of the hospitality industry. Some chefs have gone on to do other jobs in the meantime and found they can earn just as much money, if not more, dampening their desire to return to the kitchen.
In construction, the supply chain has been badly hit by a combination of the above and potentially short-term Brexit issues (depending on your political learning). Materials have been hard to get hold of, projects have been scrapped and the price of both hard-to-find labour and materials are going up. Will businesses be prepared to take that hit or will those increased costs be passed on to the customer?
While discussions over when it will all end rage on, neither the Conservatives nor the Labour Party seem overly keen on trying to fix it.
Boris Johnson’s party don’t want to open up the borders too much and welcome foreign labour back into the country because of their stance on immigration.
While Sir Keir Starmer’s party have links with trade unions who are happy that the labour and skills shortage is pushing wages up for their members.
Not only that, but there are genuine debates about just how it could be solved, even if there was the political will to do so.
Meanwhile business and industries struggle on and recruitment is extremely busy with a shortage of candidates to fill a growing number of available roles.
Luckily, one of the strengths of Macstaff is the ‘Global’ side of the business which enables us to recruit people from abroad if that person is the right fit for one of our clients.
As a recruitment specialist, we remain determined in these times to identify the talent where it is. We will engage with that talent and advise both candidate and client to help the former secure a long-lasting job that is right for them – and the latter, an employee that is right for the post for both the short and long term.
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