British Economy is Looking for a Million Workers

British companies are desperately looking for employees. There are already holes in the shelves in the first few stores. In some cases, production has to be cut back. Tens of thousands are missing in care. The country is groaning under the corona pandemic – and the consequences of Brexit.

68,929 programmers, 29,996 cooks and 6,364 joiners and carpenters: the list of skilled workers missing in Great Britain is long. In total, more than a million jobs are vacant, as reported by the ONS statistics office. That is more than ever since records began in 2001. While Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak is cheering the upswing on the labor market, which is back to pre-pandemic levels, the UK economy is facing an unexpected problem as it recovers from the corona crisis. Siren Thiru from the British Chamber of Commerce identified an “acute recruitment crisis”.

Numerous industries are desperately looking for new people. At the top of the list are truck drivers, there is a shortage of at least 100,000 workers. This also has far-reaching consequences for consumers. For weeks, some goods have been hard to come by, there are gaps on the shelves in supermarkets, there are no mattresses at Ikea, and the milk giant Arla had to reduce deliveries. There are also tens of thousands of vacancies in the care sector – in the middle of the pandemic with around 30,000 new infections in Great Britain every day. Millions of people are also waiting for an operation.

57,600 jobs in the catering industry
“These recruitment difficulties will likely dampen the economic recovery by limiting the ability of companies to fill orders and meet customer demand,” said Thiru. The latest data already reflect this: In August, the IHS Markit purchasing managers’ index fell to a six-month low, while the gross domestic product (GDP) rose by just 0.1 percent in July compared to the previous month.

The corona pandemic has shaken up the economy worldwide, and the United Kingdom is by no means the only country with vacancies in logistics. In Germany, for example, tens of thousands of truck drivers are missing. But experts point out that the problem is exacerbated in Great Britain – because of Brexit. Because hundreds of thousands migrated during the pandemic. But now only a few of them are returning. This is the first to notice industries such as gastronomy, where EU citizens have long made up the majority of the service staff. Here the number of vacancies increased by 57,600 in August alone, as the BBC reported.

In addition, the Conservative government has taken an extremely tough line on immigration since Brexit. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is fulfilling a promise. Interior Minister Priti Patel announced two years ago that freedom of movement would end “once and for all”. Anyone who wants to come to Great Britain from the EU to work now needs a visa, which costs a lot of money and effort. Hardly anything is possible on your own anyway, potential employers have to act as sponsors.

Short-time work expires – does that help?
Johnson and Patel’s goal: British jobs for British. But many people are not sufficiently trained for the work for which no EU citizens are available – or they do not want to do the low-paid jobs. Hardly a week goes by without an industry association asking the government to put other professions on an exception list for work visas.