UK facing worst staff shortages in over 20 years

According to latest government figures, UK businesses are facing their worst staff shortages in over 20 years. This has been brought on by a combination of Brexit, Covid and a lack training opportunities a fact confirmed by the latest survey undertaken by the Institute of Employment Studies.

Despite what you may read in the media, it’s not just the haulage and hospitality sectors that are reporting a staffing crisis. Other industries such as Construction and Building Services are also reporting a lack of skilled labour as the aftermath of Brexit and the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic starts to bite.

However, it’s not the fact that there is a shortage of jobs, it’s quite the opposite. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) this month showed vacancy levels at an all-time high, with July 2021 job opportunities surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

This is obviously great news for the UK economy as we start to recover from the recent lengthy lockdown. However, this also means that some key industries we work in at Multitask Personnel are now struggling to meet the current demand. After hitting a 24 year high in June, these sectors are now failing to recruit enough skilled workers to fulfil their expanding order book.

Skills shortage?

Skills shortages are nothing new. In 2016, the government was so concerned about safeguarding the future of the industry that they commissioned the ‘Farmer Review’. This was to report on the impact that the shrinking workforce and lack of skills training was having on the sector.

It concluded, even back then, that there was a massive skills shortage looming and predicted a 20-25% decline in the available skilled workforce by 2026.

Has the situation changed in the past five years?

It would seem not. In recent months, we’ve heard Richard Harpin, founder and MD of home repairs business, Homeserve and trades people finder, Checkatrade, voice his concern that the construction industry skills shortages were having a major impact, particularly on the smaller building firms.

Thanks to the ever widening skills gap, this is a huge incentive for tradespeople to upskill and reap the benefits of ever rising salaries (average increase of 9% in the past year) and prolific job opportunities in the construction industry.

It is said that one of the reasons for this lack of skilled manpower is the declining number of young people entering the industry combined with an ageing workforce. We estimate that almost a quarter of today’s trades’ force are in their 50’s. 

What can be done to level out the current shortage of skilled labour in the construction / building services industries?

Upskilling and re-training is the answer according to industry leaders. This is something crossbench peer, Lord Bilimoria, founder of Cobra beers and president of the CBI, made very clear at the recent (virtual) Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) annual conference.

He said that the government must do more to fill the skills gap by directing people to obtain qualifications for jobs that we know are in short supply. Investing in employment skills is vital for the future of the UK, he confirmed.

We fully agree. So much so that, over the years, we have partnered with local providers to provide subsidised training for those working in the construction and building services industries who want to upgrade their skills, re-qualify, or renew their existing qualifications.

Thanks to these close links, we can provide registered candidates with discounted training that suits their particular needs, enabling them to apply for vacancies that were previously unavailable to them.

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What kind of training is currently available?

Our partnered training providers offer a wide range of training programmes. All are designed to improve the attendee’s job opportunities with many tailored to the specific needs of the candidate.

Construction Site Safety Scheme (CSSS)

This covers on site health and safety and is certified by Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). It is also recognised by Build UK who represent over 40% of the UK construction industry. It is also an integral part of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme.

Although having a CSCS card is not mandatory to work on site, we have yet to find an employer who does not require employees to hold this accreditation. It does, after all, prove that they have received the required appropriate training and have the level of qualifications necessary to carry out the work safely and efficiently.

Asbestos Awareness

Another popular area that is relevant to many of our prospective candidates, these short courses are designed to give our candidates the information they need for working in situations where they may disturb the fabric of the building.

More in depth courses leading to professional qualifications are also available through us.

We have ongoing vacancies for qualified professionals in the construction and building services sector at Multitask Personnel. These industries are, however, experiencing major skills shortages as they fail to attract young people and have an ageing workforce that, in some cases, have been reluctant to enhance their skills.

The challenge, for our longer term economic recovery, is for the construction industry to attract a higher skilled workforce in the future.  We have over ten years’ experience in the recruitment of staff for this sector and understand the need for a highly skilled workforce.

We recommend that anyone looking to obtain a position, or change jobs, in the construction and building services sector should, if they haven’t already, consider registering with us.

This will enable us to identify suitable vacancies and the skills level required to carry out the job description. Should there be a need to upskill, we can then use our close links with training partners to source relevant and in many cases subsidised training support.

For further information about subsidised training provision, please contact us on 01709 820102 or enquiries@multitaskpersonnel.co.uk