There are around 900,000 fewer potential workers in the UK than if pre-pandemic trends had continued, finds a new report by Learning and Work Institute. This is the result of slower growth in the population and a rise in the numbers out of work but not looking for a job.
The report comes as many employers report difficulties hiring new workers as vacancies hit a record 1.1 million. These difficulties are particularly pronounced for roles such as HGV drivers and sectors like hospitality and health and social care. Yet one in four workers say they are interested in changing career, rising to 42% of hospitality workers.
This demonstrates a mismatch in the labour market: a worker and skills crunch. To tackle this we need to extend support to find work for those traditionally underrepresented in the workforce, such as disabled people and parents. The Government’s Plan for Jobs has helped to protect millions of jobs, but these underrepresented groups are less likely to be eligible for support and so risk missing out.
The report argues that in his forthcoming Spending Review the Chancellor should:
Employers can also widen their potential talent pool by offering more flexible and remote working. New polling for the report shows the impact of remote and flexible working during the pandemic. Workers reported work was more intensive (40%) and longer hours (35%) while 44% felt less connection to their co-workers. Both employers (40%) and employees (34%) felt more productive and 30% of employer saw a rise in creativity and innovation.
Despite these pros and cons, most (58%) employers expect a step change in remote working after the pandemic and 44% of employees want greater remote working. This will mean less demand for office space, with 27% of employers planning to cut their footprint. But the death of the office is exaggerated with many not planning to reduce office accommodation and 9% saying they plan to expand.