Watch the webinar
- Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist, CBI
- Mark Staniland, Regional Managing Director, Hays
- Sandra McKenzie-Day, Head of Talent – Europe, CEVA Logistics
- James Harding, Co-founder and Editor, Tortoise Media (chair)
In this session:
Rain Newton-Smith kicked off the webinar with an update on re-opening, following confirmation on Monday that England remains on track for 19 July and the fact we should also get more info on reviews then, too.
- Also on international travel - disappointment for aviation sector with little movement on green travel list. We continue to press government on the importance of a risk-based and transparent approach for travel which also impacts exports.
- On the NI Protocol and Brexit - Tony and Maros Sefcovic met at Business Europe last week. Tony reiterated message of needing calm heads and pragmatism to make the protocol work.
- On latest economic outlook: bounce in spending it shops and restaurants and ongoing strong economic activity means UK GDP is on course to return to pre-Covid levels by the end of the year.
On labour market shortages:
- Employers are seeing acute shortages in certain sectors including logistics, hospitality, and food & drink processing.
- Government has a ‘Shortage Occupation List’ (SOL) but this needs to be more regularly updated to reflect the needs of sectors experiencing acute labour shortages.
- Alongside this, we need an immigration system which is more open minded about what 'skilled' means – for example, UK firms not able to recruit new HGV drivers from overseas as below skills level 3.
- Mark highlighted numerous sectors across the board are facing shortages: construction, life sciences, finance and technology. Echoed Rain’s comments regarding the need for government to constantly update the shortage list. In particular, Hays are seeing a shortage of skilled labour in construction due to pent up demand following the pandemic.
- Also made the point we need a long term plan to tackle these skills shortages - we've been talking about this for ten years! International talent pools offer short term / immediate solution but need a longer term domestic plan, too.
- In terms of advice to firms, Mark identified businesses should remain aware of what's going on in wider environment, and be conscious of the fact people looking for greater work/life balance so employers should be thinking about policies which offer flexibility and hybrid working where possible. Now need to speak clearly about what they can offer to employees - it's a competitive market.
- In particular, for colleagues joining new organisations remotely, need to urge people to focus on on-boarding processes - critical to retaining staff.
- The UK’s labour shortages are particularly acute relevant to the EU – there simply aren’t enough drivers so have always looked internationally. Brexit has accelerated many of the issues. Logistics sector has also been hard hit by IR35 alongside costs of license acquisition for HGV drivers - it's expensive for anyone wanting to enter the industry.
- In terms of longer term solutions, apprenticeship levy reform is needed, as an industry we contribute a lot but fraction is actually spent in the industry. Bureaucracy which sits around it means larger companies can manage but smaller firms will struggle.
- Advice for firms: while agile working is important reality is we need people in work in retail and other settings, agile working isn't appliable for all roles. So companies need to think about where they look to recruit and how they make ourselves attractive to prospective employees. Need to lift the lid on less well-known industries and jobs through better careers advice and then when they’re in - look after them so they stay.
- This might also mean firms need to recruit differently e.g., look at behaviours and potential candidates rather than previous experience – this is a trend which has been accelerated by covid. Now feeding more firmly into recruitment processes as we don't have the choice to only recruit people who have done the job before.