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Why is the UK facing a candidate shortage?

  • Publish Date: Posted 12 days ago

​The UK job market has changed very much since the beginning of this year when confidence amongst the majority of UK businesses was low. As restrictions begin to ease further, confidence across the job market has grown and as a result we have seen a surge in the demand for new hires across the board. Whilst this is great news for the industry, on the flip side, the number of available workers plunged in June at the fastest rate since 1997 according to The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

This sharp reduction in the number of new candidates looking for employment is down to a number of factors including the sharp rise in demand across all industries coming out of the pandemic, furloughed staff (approximately 1.5 million still furloughed), reluctance in seeking out new roles due to uncertainty, fewer EU candidates, and many highly skilled candidates have been already snapped up at the beginning of the pandemic when many found themselves out of work due to redundancy.

The latest KPMG and REC Report shows that this rise in vacancies, along side a decline in job seekers has resulted in an increase in starting pay to attract candidates. This is across both permanent and temporary roles.

According to data from the British Chambers of Commerce, 70% of 5,700 companies surveyed had struggled to hire staff in the three months to June. Claire Warnes, partner and head of education, skills and productivity at KPMG UK, said; “We need businesses and recruiters working alongside government to urgently address the skills gap by supporting candidates and employees to upskill and reskill to move into new roles. This will be crucial to our recovery from the pandemic and the levelling up of opportunities across the UK.”

What this means if your business is going through a recruitment drive:

Speed is key

A candidate can be available one day and then taken off the job market the next because your competitors offered them the position first. Don’t delay in responding, candidates are less likely to wait around in the current job market.

Offer competitive pay rates

Make sure you are offering a competitive rate of pay to attract candidates. It’s an extremely competitive market at the moment so if the rate of pay you are offering doesn’t meet the average you will struggle to attract applicants.

Company incentives

As the pandemic has left many job seekers feeling uncertain about moving on from their current employer, candidates are looking more and more at company culture, benefit packages such as holiday entitlement and pension schemes.

Don’t be too specific

Try to be flexible with your requirements, being too specific in a candidate short market will likely put applicants off applying when they could potentially possess the right skills, aspirations and culture fit that your company is looking for.

Flexible working

In roles where it is possible to work from home, demand for this among job seekers has increased due to the pandemic. Many candidates are now looking for flexible working to fit around family commitments and a mix of working from home and being office based is on the rise. If the role allows it, this is one worth exploring.

It’s fantastic news that the job market is thriving once again, and we are speaking with many companies on a daily basis who are looking for new hires in the engineering and manufacturing industry. Placements are being secured but the key factor right now is that clients need to move quickly to ensure they get the candidates they want.

Luke Bell, Managing Director at Metalis said; "As we approach the end of the current climate, the surge in job losses in the engineering and manufacturing markets have taken a steep decline. We are seeing an increased demand from clients in many industry sectors who are looking to re-hire as their businesses get back on track due to a boost in economic growth.”

“We are now in a candidate-short market, and as the demand for talent increases, the supply of available candidates has rapidly declined as people are back in full time work. However, we predict that once the furlough scheme comes to an end, the statistic will start to balance out for many sectors."

Data from The Recruitment and Employment Confederation shows that the recruitment industry supports £86 billion in gross value added to the economy. Recruiters help over 300,000 people to leave unemployment for a permanent role every year. Thus, the recruitment industry could support both business leaders and the government to make sure skilled workers have access to new jobs as they are being created.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Metalis for any help or support. We have a team of experts who understand the industrial, engineering and manufacturing industries and the people who work in them. Whether you’re searching for permanent, temporary, or contract engineering staff, we’re proud to give clients and candidates a high-quality and supportive engineering recruitment experience.