Staffing Shortage Sees Sector Vacancies Soar

The number of job vacancies in June to August 2021 was 1,034,000, the first time vacancies has risen over 1 million since records began, and is now 249,000 above its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic January to March 2020 level, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS)

Job vacancies in the hospitality sector increased by 57,600 during the period June- August 2021

The coronavirus pandemic affected job numbers adversely across the majority of industries, with those sectors hardest hit showing large falls since December 2019. Accommodation and food service activities has seen the largest number of job losses with 178,000 (negative 7.0%) since December 2019.

Other notable industries to have been affected are wholesale, retail and motor vehicles, which fell by 170,000, and manufacturing, which fell by 138,000. Of all the industry sectors, six increased job numbers over the same period. The sector with the largest increase was public administration, defence and compulsory social security, with 81,000 more jobs.

There are signs of recovery in the quarterly figures, with 14 industry sectors showing positive growth since March 2021, contributing to an increase of 293,000 to the total workforce jobs estimate.

Accommodation and food service activities, up 122,000 (5.5%), showed the greatest single sector increase.

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has warned that the skills gap is only going to stretch further unless quick action is taken to encourage more independent professionals from outside the UK to relocate here for work.

Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy at APSCo commented:

“This on-going spike in recruitment activity is in keeping with APSCo’s latest Recruitment Trends Snapshot report – produced in conjunction with growth analytics experts cube19 – which showed that permanent and contract roles saw marked increases year on year in August, up 47% and 79.5% respectively. The fact that pay has returned to pre-pandemic levels at last is a positive sign for the economy, however, we are seeing employers simply needing to increase remuneration as staff shortages continue to impact hiring activity.

“The increasing dearth of talent that businesses across the country are reporting is a real concern to the recruitment sector. While the Government has pledged to support skills development in the UK on a longer-term basis, there is a need for more immediate action. At APSCo we are continuing our calls to the Government to provide a visa entry route into the UK that both allows and encourages high value independent professionals to work in the country on a project-basis. And while the delayed return to in person Right to Work checks is a welcome move, a permanent, longer-term solution is needed to create a regulatory environment that is fit for purpose in today’s modern world.

“We expect to see recruitment activity continue on its upward trajectory in the immediate future, however, with the furlough scheme ending this month, it will be interesting to see how this impacts the ONS labour statistics for the remaining quarter of 2021.”