Fishing for candidates in a depleted pond


By Matthew Langin

The impact of COVID-19 and Brexit on resourcing
We’re hearing it again and again on the news, how a shortage of lorry drivers will mean empty supermarket shelves. How restaurants can’t open because of a lack of waiting staff and how farm produce is spoiling due to an absence of farm hands. But where have all these workers gone and what can we do to find and replace them?

The role Brexit has had to play
Despite the official government estimate saying that 5.6m EU citizens applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, to continue to live and work in UK, many organisations are struggling to fill positions. This is especially true in low-skilled roles as, since Brexit, the new points-based immigration system favours the movement of highly skilled foreign workers over low skilled. And industries such as food processing and manufacturing, warehouse work and the hospitality industry, which relied on free movement for European nationals are all feeling the exodus of foreign nationals.

The consequences of COVID-19
In addition to Brexit, 2020 saw the number of deaths rise to the highest in a century. A million people left the country – the largest annual fall in the resident population since WW2, with London hit the hardest as an estimated 700k left the capital.

According to LinkedIn from March 2020, when Covid restrictions were introduced, the industries hardest hit by this exodus were those most affected by the pandemic, such as retail, recreation, travel and hospitality. All sectors likely to have had relatively higher proportions of EU citizens in their workforce. LinkedIn also reports an estimated shortfall of 30,000 large goods vehicle drivers in the UK, as high numbers from Bulgaria and Romania left the UK at the start of the pandemic.

The combination of Brexit and COVID-19 has created the perfect resourcing storm
A reluctance by employees to switch roles due to the uncertainty created by the pandemic and the skills shortages caused by having fewer European Union workers in the UK has combined to create a recruitment problem. BDO recently conducted a survey which found a quarter of the 500 firms they polled were facing staffing pressure. While, the Confederation of British Industry, which represents 190,000 businesses said its latest data showed 70% of companies were planning pay rises in a bid to tackle labour shortages.

An insight – sector by sector

  • Food and Hospitality – almost two-fifths of hospitality venues have had to totally or partially close due to a lack of staff, according to trade body UKHospitality.
  • Travel – MBM Travel Executives, say: “We’re facing the worst staffing shortage on record. If you can’t offer more money, start recruitment earlier, beef up your benefits package and for staff referrals.”
  • Haulage – Britain has an estimated shortage of 100,000 truck drivers. The Road Haulage Association, said the situation was “not visibly getting better” and that disruption could last a while.
  • Care sector – The annual Skills for Care workforce report calculates there are more than 100,000 posts with no-one to fill them with 60% of homes suffering a rise in staff turnover.
  • Retail – with a rise in demand for online shopping, Tesco, Asda and Amazon are among the big firms promising £1,000 starting bonuses for warehouse workers and delivery drivers.
  • Construction/engineering – material supplies and transport issues are suffocating growth in housebuilding plus shortages of scaffolders, bricklayers, carpenters and electrical engineers.

What’s the answer?
That’s the million-dollar question! The lack of the necessary people to perform the wealth of available and necessary jobs is a complex and challenging issue for many organisations. Being visible, attractive, competitive and strategic with your attraction and resourcing strategy has never been more important. And these are all areas that we can offer you expert support with. So, if you’d like some extra bait for your hook, for your next fishing trip, please don’t hesitate to contact us.