Nine in ten recruiters, 88%, said that labour shortages are their biggest concern during 2021, and this issue is not likely to go away any time soon. Vacancies in the UK rose to a record 1.3 million in the last quarter of 2021. The core reasons for this are the sharp rise in demand coming out of the pandemic, fewer EU candidates and uncertainty. 

As the travel and hospitality industries start to open and social restrictions are eased companies across the UK are struggling to meet the sudden surge in demand. Three in five recruiters have at least 30% more vacancies now than prior to the pandemic – but 97% have reported it was taking longer than usual to fill vacancies. Due to travel restrictions and complications caused by post-Brexit Immigration rules, fewer EU candidates have been available to fill vacancies – this has been especially destructive for the haulage and transport industry, estimating a shortage of over 100,000 truckers in 2021. We have seen post-pandemic uncertainty has sky-rocketed across the workforce, as employees are not willing to take the risk of moving jobs. These factors have all contributed to the record candidate shortage in the UK. In response to the shortage, what have employers done to attract skilled candidates?

Salaries for newly placed permanent staff rose at the fastest on record, as companies attempt to beat the competition to the best candidates in the market. Also, almost half of employers have simplified their recruitment process and improved flexible working arrangements. 

Not only is there a candidate shortage, but there is also a looming talent shortage as demand for occupations such as managers, technology specialists and health professionals could rise 20% by 2030. It is estimated that by 2030, two-thirds of the UK workforce could be lacking in basic digital skills. So what is the solution to the talent shortage?

One solution is for employers to invest in training and courses that will help give employers an introduction to digital skills; training as simple as the basics of Microsoft Word and PowerPoint will benefit many workers across the UK. Alternatively, another solution is to invest in graduate schemes, as students are likely to already have experience using digital platforms and transferable skills that will be a valuable asset to many companies. 

The candidate shortage is predicted to steadily improve as the UK economy starts to recover from the pandemic, however, the talent shortage will continue to be a concern for many businesses in digital and IT sectors due to the lack of adequately skilled candidates. Future employers will have to be reliant on younger generations to fill specialist roles.