New research shows that nine in ten (88 per cent) recruiters are concerned about the labour shortage, stating that they are worried it is putting economic recovery at risk.

Whilst the labour shortage remains the top concern among recruiters for the remainder of 2021, this is followed by the skills shortage, which is a major concern for two thirds (65 per cent) of businesses.

Many staffing companies are reporting the tightest labour market they have ever experienced, as shortages hit every sector of the economy.

In fact, the CBI, the country’s largest employers’ group, has warned that labour supply problems affecting UK industries could last for up to two years.

The organisation blames the shortage of workers on a combination of the pandemic and Brexit, which limits the number of EU workers entering the country.

Officials have told businesses that they should use British workers, particularly those still on furlough, rather than anticipating a rule change to temporarily allow EU workers into the country who had previously filled these positions, with The Home Office commenting that employers should “invest in the domestic workforce”.

Just last week the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which reported 1.66 million job openings at the end of last month, said that the workers still on furlough were at major risk of losing their jobs, and they needed to retrain and reskill to capitalise on the opportunity in the post-COVID economy.

However, as the furlough scheme winds down, officials remain sceptical as to whether this alone will have much impact on the labour shortage gripping the UK.

Commenting on the concern of recruiters, Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC, said:

Worker shortages are a huge problem for employers and their recruitment partners, across all industries and regions.

Vacancy numbers are far higher than pre-pandemic, and it is taking much longer to fill them. This is putting the recovery at risk by putting capacity constraints on the economy, as last week’s GDP figures showed.

As such, we will only solve these shortages through a collaborative approach. We’re glad that multiple government departments are coming together in a joint forum to tackle the issue, but to be effective it must also include business and industry experts.


*The REC surveyed 191 recruitment professionals between 12 August and 10 September 2021.