The biggest drop was in “cleaning and sanitation” and “loading and storage,” according to data from recruitment site Indeed.
Last week, the Office for National Statistics said the number of job vacancies in the UK hit an all-time high in the three months leading up to September.
A shortage of truck drivers crippled much of the UK last month as fuel deliveries struggled to keep up with demand.
During the first half of this year, sectors that include cleaning jobs and those working in warehouses experienced labor shortages similar to driving, but they haven’t seen the same renewed interest in recent months.
Why are these sectors struggling to fill roles?
One of the main reasons for the shortages has been the increased demand for labor. Job vacancies hit a record 1.1 million within three months to September, according to ONS data.
The strongest upturn in vacancies is in industries like accommodation and food services, which have been hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions.
But in other sectors with labor shortages, the picture is more complicated.
The demand for warehouse workers always increases in the winter before Christmas and has increased in recent years due to the boom in e-commerce, says Clare Bottle, managing director of the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA).
But this year, “it’s definitely become a more widespread problem,” with many permanent positions unfilled as well, she said.
According to the British Cleaning Council, many cleaning and hygiene companies are also struggling to recruit the staff they need and the situation is “getting worse by the day”.
“If we go back a few years, the proportion of EU-national heavy truck drivers was around 15%, but the equivalent proportion of forklift drivers was actually 34%,” says Bottle.
“If you were to speak to those people who have returned to their home country, Poland, Romania or elsewhere, they might have a hard time determining whether this was directly due to COVID or Brexit, but the result is that people went home and they didn’t come back. “
Indeed data suggests Brexit is a factor: the number of job seekers from the EU has fallen by a third since the end of 2019, while the number of people applying from outside the EU is virtually unchanged.
Are companies increasing wages to attract new workers?
At first glance, it seems that only moderate wage increases are occurring.
The average hourly wage for a loading and storing job is now £ 11, 5.2% more than in January.
While the median cleaning and sanitation wage has increased only 3.3% since early 2021, despite a 2.2% increase in the national living wage in April.
But according to Bottle, companies now “routinely” grant 20 to 30 percent overnight pay increases for certain warehouse jobs.
Pawel Adrjan, Indeed’s head of research in Europe, Middle East and Africa, said this reflects a premium given to skilled workers like truck drivers and forklift operators.
“The same can’t be said for occupations with lower skill requirements like cleaning, where wages stagnate and employers might wait for pinch points to be resolved rather than raise wages,” he says.
Indeed data shows forklift operators have seen a steady increase in wages in recent months, while janitor wages are unchanged, despite the same average wage in early 2021.
Salary increases are only a short-term solution, Mr. Adrjan warned.
“An astronomical approach to raising wages in certain industries might help address short-term hiring challenges, but it can translate into higher prices for a wide range of goods and services and doesn’t do much. thing to protect the wallet of consumers, ”he said.
“A longer-term strategy is needed to address persistent shortages in sectors like healthcare, nursing and technology, which are critical to building a truly highly skilled and well-paid economy. “
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