Chronic staff shortages are threatening the post-Covid recovery in Wales, with the biggest hiring crisis since the late 1990s unfolding across the wider UK, warns the MD of one fast-growing Newport firm.
A recent survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and the accountancy firm KPMG said the number of available workers plunged in June at the fastest rate since 1997 and here in Wales, one employer with sites in Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, Llanelli and Cwmbran, as well as across The Midlands and the M4 Corridor, warns that firms in Wales are facing a more marked crisis.
Simon Williams, MD of Storage Giant, which is headquartered in Newport, said: “Our firm has been able to operate smoothly and efficiently throughout the Covid pandemic and, as we emerge, we are seeing areas of growth for our business, including more start-ups setting up under our roof and the student storage market being particularly buoyant again through the summer. However, we have a number of vacancies at all levels across sites in Swansea & Newport as well as at our sites in Bristol, Telford and Bicester, that we have had fewer applicants than we would usually. And anecdotally we are hearing of similar issues from business colleagues across the country in all sectors.”
Recruitment firms are reporting severe hiring challenges across hospitality, manufacturing, transport and logistics and construction and more, with the problem not simply contained to lower-paying sectors.
Simon adds: “Surveys from the British Chambers of Commerce published in the Spring showed 70 percent that had tried to hire staff in the three months to June had struggled to do so. We already have a very well-documented problem of brain drain, with young people heading out of Wales to begin their career once they finish their education. We are in danger of heading for the perfect storm of a high number of vacancies and few recruits and this will further slow the economic recovery for Wales at a time when it really needs to come back fighting. Of course, the fact that unemployment is low is good news, however, there really needs to be a concerted focus on reskilling furloughed and prospective workers now and on encouraging job-seekers to consider a broad range of roles and to opt for firms with robust internal training programmes and good career progression opportunities.”