As the UK attempts to get back to normal by bringing an end to its emergency legal Covid countermeasures, there is no doubt the economy is stuttering. Although a post Covid jobs bonanza was widely predicted, the job market is a little confused.
The ability to open and the quality of service delivered by many businesses is being hampered or threatened by the somewhat farcical test and trace scheme. Companies are suffering from staff shortages due to the mobile app based system. This notifies people to isolate when they have been in close proximity to someone that has tested positive, and it is widely criticised.
For many observers, ambiguity and uncertainty has been the hallmark of the UK government’s handling of the crisis, with some characterising it as chaotic and incompetent. The app notification or ‘ping’ to isolate is only an advisory. However, many believe it is a requirement. This is a result of mixed messaging and a woeful failure to provide clarity and leadership.
Oil companies are having trouble making fuel deliveries to service stations because of driver shortages. Supermarkets cannot keep shelves stocked because workers are staying home after being notified. Some hospitality businesses like restaurants and pubs are struggling, with ‘pinged’ staff isolating.
There is also a big problem with unfilled vacancies. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were 862,000 jobs on offer between April and June. This data suggests that the number of job vacancies in the UK has surpassed pre-pandemic levels in the three months to June, chiefly due to opportunities in hospitality and retailing.
Nightclubs and venues, which have been shut for almost 15 months, are crying out to get people through the doors and rebuild balance sheets. However, night time economy businesses are seeing as much as six out of ten door security positions go unfilled, threatening to force licensees to close, or break the terms of their licence by opening without meeting security requirements.
Amidst that, the numbers of staff on payroll are recovering. In June this increased by 356,000, to 28.9 million. This was driven by the easing of Covid restrictions in England during May that allowed the hospitality industry to reopen. Despite being on the up, according to the ONS this was 206,000 below pre-pandemic levels.
Although the big picture is far from clear, economists and recruitment industry insiders believe the situation is indicative of a serious underlying weakness in the UK labour market.
The rise in vacancies above pre-pandemic levels may seem like a very positive development, but with so many roles going unfilled, it points to a deeper structural labour market problem – a shortage of skills.
This is not something that is going to unwind naturally as the economy attempts to recover. The escape route from Covid is a long and winding road, embedded with uncertainty that is likely to make it very bumpy. However, there are opportunities for recruiters to take a lead. Broadly, skills shortages need to be addressed by:
As you work tirelessly to place workers to support the economy you need to ensure that your agency has a solution to process timesheets, take care of back office admin and send invoices out to make certain that your contractors and your agency gets paid on time. Hiring staff to do this is a time consuming and costly exercise. The smart way is a back office solution that can handle exponential growth.
The UK workforce is reconfiguring itself. In the wake of factors such as Covid, Brexit and remote working there is a lot of dust that needs to settle before the picture becomes clearer. For the recruitment sector, the universal truth is people need full time, part time, permanent, temp, freelance or contract jobs, and recruiters are a key facilitator for helping people find the right work that matches their skill sets.
ETZ’s timesheet, invoicing and payment processes run smoothly and efficiently, making sure agency supplied workers are paid on time and clients are invoiced in an accurate and timely fashion. To find out more about how we help agencies like yours to get the best value from RecTech, call us on 0800 311 2266 or book a demo.
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