Demand for workers continuing to rise, study finds

Experts warn the coming months could be ‘difficult’ for employers looking to hire as firms start building up to Christmas

Demand for staff remains high as the UK’s worker shortage continues to grow, research has found.

A study of job adverts, conducted by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) as part of its Jobs Recovery Tracker, found that there were 1.66 million active listings in the last week of August.

This included more than 190,000 that had been posted that week, continuing a five-week trend of the highest weekly figures since the middle of December 2020.

The REC has warned that the number of new job postings has remained high since early June, and that continued labour shortages should be of concern to both businesses and the government.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said demand for staff showed “no sign of weakening”, particularly as businesses in sectors including food, logistics and hospitality start to prepare for the run-up to Christmas.

“The months ahead could be difficult – even with a large number of people coming off furlough in August and September,” said Carberry.

Get more HR and employment law news like this delivered straight to your inbox every day – sign up to People Management’s PM Daily newsletter

He added that while some of the labour shortages could be short term, it would take time for the labour market to realign as people look for new roles post pandemic.

“There is good evidence to suggest that the market will remain tight for some years to come, even if the current crisis passes,” Carberry said. “Hiring businesses need to assess their workforce plans and work out how they are going to attract and retain the staff they need in the coming months and years.

“But employers also need the government to work with them in a practical, co-operative way on skills, unemployment and immigration changes in order to get through this crisis.”

Dispensing opticians were one of the most in-demand professions, with vacancies increasing 26 per cent last week.

Vehicle-related occupations were also in demand, with driving instructors and vehicle body builders and repairers each seeing a 13 per cent increase in demand, and vehicle valeters and cleaners seeing a 9.2 per cent increase in demand.

Regionally, the REC found that six out of the top 10 hiring spots last week were in Scotland, which recently saw its lockdown rules relax further, while conversely six of the bottom 10 hiring areas were in Northern Ireland.