U.K. Recruiters See Slower Jobs Growth as Omicron Virus Hits
Britain’s labor market slowed from near record levels of job creation as coronavirus infections surged last month, a survey showed.
Job vacancies slipped to the lowest in eight months in December, and demand for permanent staff eased, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG. A separate report from the British Chambers of Commerce found 79% of companies having difficulty finding people to hire, especially construction and hospitality firms.
The results slowed the rate of growth in wages only slightly and add to evidence that concerns about the omicron variant of the virus have delivered a setback to Britain’s economic recovery. The slowdown is unlikely to quell inflationary forces that both companies and the Bank of England say will squeeze the finances of consumers this year.
“Employers in all sectors haven’t lost their appetite to hire,” said Claire Warnes, head of education, skills and productivity at KPMG. “Many will be frustrated by the pressure these inflationary and competitive conditions, which are likely to continue.”
The REC said shortages of qualified staff were most acute in the health and care sector, exacerbated by employees having to take time off because they’d contracted or been exposed to Covid-19. Employers said uncertainty around the pandemic, a low unemployment rate and fewer foreign workers had weighed on candidate availability, though it was improving.
The BCC also cited a lack of foreign nationals as a factor weighing on companies in addition to the pandemic. It surveyed 5,400 businesses, 64% of which were attempting to hire in the fourth quarter, up from 61% in the third quarter.
The REC’s survey of about 400 recruitment agencies found:
- There was more growth in permanent hires than temporary placements in December, though both continued to rise at historically sharp rates
- The North saw the fastest rise in permanent appointments of all English regions
- London recorded the quickest growth in temporary billings
- IT and computing workers were the most in-demand permanent staff, as in November
“Staff shortages will outlive the pandemic as an economic issue,” said Neil Carberry, chief executive officer of the REC.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.