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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

REC campaigns to address labour and skills shortages

Labour shortages

Samantha Beggs avatar

Written by Samantha Beggs

As evidenced by our research, employers’ confidence in their ability to hire new staff and make investment decisions has remained high over the summer. That picture looks set to continue for the next three months, and though it’s a welcome indication of economic recovery, the number of vacancies is now at an all-time high and still rising. This, during a time when acute skills and labour shortages are affecting every industry in the UK. Raising awareness about this long-standing issue and helping to resolve it is an urgent priority for the REC.

To help address these issues, the REC is leading a campaign on labour shortages, taking the concerns of our members to key policy makers. We want to share the industry’s expertise and work with government to find a solution to this long-standing issue. To date, we’ve written to the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to offer insight and share potential solutions to address driver shortages. We’ve also reached out to other trade bodies, namely in hospitality, logistics, tech and the food industry sector and we’ve hosted a roundtable with the Department for Education (DfE) on Skills Bootcamps to see how they can be used and adapted to meet skills needs.

We conducted a survey of our members to help build our case and gather first-hand evidence to take to government through direct outreach to MPs and Peers. Just before summer recess, a number of parliamentary questions on this issue were tabled on our behalf and we plan to secure more from September onwards. We've also produced an easy guide , including a template letter, which our members can use to engage with their local MPs. While there is no silver bullet, we have developed several ‘asks’ in dialogue with members which will help to address this issue, both in the short and long-term. Many of those asks are sector specific as we know that some problems are unique to different occupations.  

If the UK is truly to recover from the pandemic, then we have to get this right. We will only be able to ‘build back better’ if we’ve got a diverse, skilled, and resilient workforce to support it.  For government, the pressing issue is that labour shortages will hamper business and economic growth in the coming months. Ministers must work with businesses and make the reforms needed to the skills system, the immigration system, and focus on putting more people on a path to a good job.