A quarterly, in-depth look at Yorkshire’s economic and recruitment activity from Nemi Alexis at Stafflex
The latest data for Yorkshire & Humber shows a strong increase in hiring activity as permanent placements increase at their fastest rate since February. On the other hand, staff availability has deteriorated at a weaker pace and the rate of increase for starting pay in job vacancies has slowed down in recent months.
Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said: “These numbers show a hugely positive jobs market if you are looking for work. While the pace of growth has dropped after a stellar first quarter, by any normal measure there are still lots of vacancies out there, offering improved wages.”
“For companies, they emphasise again that hiring is a challenge in this market, and getting it right matters. Labour supply is still the big issue we have to solve. With over half a million people missing from the jobs market, and demand still growing strongly, this is a big, strategic issue for the UK.”
The Office for National Statistics reported that the economy contracted by 0.3% in April after shrinking by 0.1% in March. It is the first time since the start of Covid that the economy contracted for two months in a row.
Some experts warn that this could be the start of a UK-wide recession as households and businesses continue to be hit by rising fuel and energy prices.
The fuel increases affect everything – commenting on the situation, Kaan Hendekli, head of operations at JJ Foodservice said: “Every product essentially hits a lorry – whether we deliver or we receive it from suppliers or our suppliers receive it from the manufacturers.”
Demand for skills
Our own experience talking to various companies and organisations combined with the data indicates that every sector is struggling in some capacity with skills in short supply. Most noticeable sectors include engineers, drivers, warehouse workers, IT developers, administrators and receptionists as well as customer service and sales staff.
The latest data shows the salaries for new permanent and temporary staff has continued to increase in May. The growth has shown signs of slowing but we see businesses are offering higher pay to attract and secure skilled candidates. Average earnings across the UK have increased by 3.3% year on year with Yorkshire’s average weekly earnings of £610 currently slightly below the UK average at £700.
It is important to note that even with the increase in pay – salaries have fallen behind the soaring inflation rates as the cost of living crisis continues to be an issue for households.
“We are starting to see first-hand that the increase in fuel costs has started to affect how far people are prepared to travel to work. We predict that the rising costs could create greater liquidity in the jobs market as people look to move jobs closer to home or to obtain higher salary expectations.
“How do we solve the candidate shortage? The simple answer is that we must make labour more available. Perhaps there is some merit in removing the restrictions for migrant workers, especially in the unskilled and semi-skilled market.” Brian Stahelin, joint managing director of Stafflex.