Labour shortage in the UK

Labour shortage in the UK

A UK hotel chain has been receiving some poor reviews recently (not the chain that we promote by the way).

Looking at the reviews and complaints, they show all the signs of a company that is short staffed. Recently I stayed at a hotel that appeared to also be understaffed (also not the group that we promote).

The hotel industry, like many, has become reliant on migrant workers from EU countries, and many workers have returned to their countries of origin.

There is now a labour shortage in the UK

Brexit is a factor. So is the falling value of the pound. Reports from community insiders suggest that the pandemic has also influenced many migrant workers to return to their countries of origin.

Many of these workers were used to low cost flights between regional airports in the UK and EU. It was easy and cheap to return frequently to visit family members. So lockdowns and travel restrictions hit many migrant workers more than most. And like many people, some migrant workers have reviewed their lives, set new priorities and decided to move back to their countries of origin to be closer to their families.

The hotel chain’s website shows a large number of vacancies. But apart from managerial vacancies, a high proportion are offering part time or zero hours contracts. Personally, I cannot see how employers will fill the vacancies easily if jobs become more plentiful, now that employers can no longer fill vacancies through recruitment agencies in Eastern Europe.

A shortage of drivers

There has been widespread reporting of a shortage of delivery drivers.

Recruitment agencies advertise that HGV drivers earn an average of £30,000 a year and training agencies are saying that the training course can be completed in as little as four days (although accreditation will take longer). So what’s the problem?

The problem is that the hourly pay can still be low. There are HGV jobs being advertised for £9 an hour, though £11 is more common. To earn £30,000 a driver needs to work long hours, although that figure includes extra pay for sleeping away from home and bonuses.. Starting pay is usually between £17,000 and £20,000. Little more, if any, than a local delivery driver, but with far more responsibilities.

This wasn’t always the case. Until the end of the 1970’s HGV drivers were an elite group, well paid and with a strong “knight of the road” culture. They had a supporting infrastructure of transport cafes, something that barely exists now.

Nights sleeping in the cab, often unexpectedly, were a feature of the job and accepted. Now, some drivers complain of problems finding toilet and washing facilities as transport cafe sites have been converted to something more modern.

There is no doubt that in the future, employers will need to try to prevent their employees being tempted to work elsewhere. That will include paying them better.

Whether we like it or not, that will lead to price increases.