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Exodus of Overseas Workers Could Leave UK Companies Facing Labour Shortages

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Labour shortages could be a feature of the UK’s recovery from the Covid crisis in the coming months, according to employment experts.

A lifting of Covid restrictions in England and Wales means many businesses are getting closer to normal operating conditions and are looking to hire new staff.

However, there is now understood to be a relative shortage of applicants for jobs appearing in certain sectors, partly because so many people who might otherwise have filled those positions have left the UK due to Brexit or Covid.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), along with the recruitment company Adecco, have said that retailers and hospitality businesses are currently planning to hire at the fastest pace recorded in eight years.

But those plans could well be hindered by the limited availability of men and women willing and able to work in the UK.

Indeed, the online jobs search service Adzuna has said that there has been a huge decline in the number of people applying for jobs in the UK from the EU and North Africa since the early months of 2020.

“UK employers can no longer rely on overseas workers to plug employment gaps,” explained Andrew Hunter, the co-founder of Adzuna.

“There is hot competition for staff, with many hospitality and retail workers having left the industry to look for more secure work after the ups and downs of the last year.”

There are concerns among some business leaders that a lack of access to workers from overseas could significantly drag on the UK’s economic recovery in the coming months.

According to the CIPD’s figures, the balance of employers planning to add to their workforces was plus 27 per cent in the second quarter of 2021, up from 11 per cent in the first quarter of the year.

That positive number is understood to reflect the greatest appetite for making new hires recorded among UK companies since February 2013.

Redundancy rates increased exceptionally rapidly in the latter months of 2020 but stabilised thereafter partly as a result of the extension of the government’s wage support scheme, which is now scheduled to stay in place until the end of September.

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