Job vacancies soar as skills shortage bites


Jobs vacancies in the UK are soaring but there are not enough workers to fill them, a report suggests.

The easing of Covid restrictions and reopening of various sectors meant demand for workers rose at its fastest rate in May for more than 23 years, according to a KPMG survey.

But the number of staff available to fill those jobs declined at the quickest rate since 2017.

KPMG called on the government and firms to address skills gaps.

Workers were especially needed in IT and computing, which has been a long-term trend, as well as hospitality, the survey found.

Hospitality venues are struggling to fill thousands of job vacancies with waiting staff and chefs in particular demand as Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease, industry body UK Hospitality said last week.

Many hospitality firms have struggled during the pandemic despite extensive government support, including rates holidays and the furlough scheme, and staff have lost their jobs or seen their hours reduced.

The retail industry saw the least demand for workers.

The jobs market “seems to be firing on all cylinders” said KPMG partner Claire Warnes.

“But the deterioration in staff supply intensified this month… This is a worrying trend,” she added.

She called for government and firms to “urgently address the skills gap”.

Kate Shoesmith, deputy chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), said: “With demand spiking, the skills and labour shortages that already existed in the UK have come into sharper focus – and Covid has only made them worse.

“This is the most pressing issue in the jobs market right now, and has the potential to slow down the recovery.”

A government spokesperson said: “Our multi-billion pound plan for jobs, including the Kickstart scheme, is supporting employers across the country to create jobs and help jobseekers get the skills and experience needed to develop their careers and fulfil roles for years to come.

“Additionally, we have increased the apprenticeship hiring incentive to £3,000 per new apprentice hire and our lifetime skills guarantee – worth the equivalent of around £3,400 per person – ensures all adults can gain new skills and qualifications.”