Data from KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the UK recruitment industry trade body, has got underneath the skin of the skills shortage in Britain to reveal some of the complexities that may not be readily apparent.
Research from 400 recruiters in July 2022 shows that fewer foreign workers and greater hesitancy among some people to apply for new jobs have produced a significant drop in candidate numbers for vacancies.
Other trends identified included:
Brexit is of course regarded as the decisive factor that has been the root of many labour-related issues in the UK. Although the matter is settled for at least a generation, the debate looks likely to continue. For the UK, the way ahead it would seem is to attract more migrant workers from outside the EU.
Contrast this with Australia, which it seems is well ahead of the game, at a policy level at least. More than a million people have moved to Australia since 2016, and census data has revealed more than half of the population was born overseas or has a parent who was.
There are more than 480,000 job vacancies across the country. However, with unemployment at almost a 50-year low, employers are struggling to fill the gaps.
The pandemic and Australia’s tough border policies have deepened gaps in staffing in many sectors, hitting sectors such as hospitality, healthcare, agriculture and skilled trade industries quite severely.
To combat this talent shortage, Australia is raising its cap on permanent migration for the first time in a decade, aiming to fill the workforce shortage gap. It will increase the number of migrant workers by almost 18 percent, taking up to 195,000 people this financial year, an increase of 35,000.
The UK and Australia have both had political issues with immigration. Concerns over growing populations of foreign workers fuelled angry debate around low-cost labour exploitation, national identity and housing shortages, among other things. This was of course a primary driver behind Brexit, the UK’s exit from the EU.
However, reality seems to have dawned in Australia and perhaps the fallout from Brexit and the experience of the UK has helped the Canberra government see the light. Australian Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil is on record, saying: “We are moving away from a system which is almost entirely focused on how we keep people out to one that recognises that we are in a global war for talent.”
With this, Australia seems to demonstrate leadership that some observers feel has gone AWOL in the UK.
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