UK's dilemma: too many job vacancies, too few workers

09 May 2017

The UK is facing a dilemma that is the exact opposite of a developing country like India - Britain has a shortage of workers across scores of different jobs, and the situation has been made worse by the uncertainties caused by the UK's exit from the European Union.

The shortages range from engineering and accounting to hospitality and caring, but they are most intense in the engineering sector as too few trainees are coming through the education system, recruiters have warned.

Now that unemployment has fallen to levels not seen in more than a decade, there are fewer people available to take new jobs, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

''We have the lowest unemployment rate since 2005, and people already in work are becoming more hesitant about moving jobs amid Brexit uncertainty,'' said the group's chief executive Kevin Green, indicating that there is a smaller domestic pool of potential employees from which companies can find workers.

Migrants from the EU are also increasingly reluctant to apply for jobs in the UK, the REC said, as the weaker pound has reduced the euro-value of their British earnings, and they are uncertain as to their future right to remain in the UK.

The shortage affects a swathe of different jobs across the economy with varying skill levels.

''Candidate availability is at a 16-month low and recruiters are flagging a shortage of suitable applicants for more than 60 different roles from cleaner to accountant,'' said Green.

Competition for new workers is driving salaries up, the recruiters said, though official data does indicate that wages are rising at only a modest pace.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics indicate there are currently 767,000 job vacancies across the UK, a number which has risen by 1.7 per cent over the past year.

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