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Job vacancies are up but applicants are in short supply

22 June 2021

The number of people applying for retail and logistics jobs has fallen dramatically as both Brexit and COVID-19 have had an impact on worker availability.

The latest data from job boards network Broadbean Technology has found that while the number of vacancies has soared as COVID restrictions have been gradually lifted, the number of applicants for some jobs has tumbled dramatically.

Broadbean Technology's data shows that:

  • The number of retail jobs increased by 55% from March to May while applications per vacancy (APV) fell by 52%;
  • In logistics and distribution, the number of jobs rose by 79% in May compared to pre-pandemic conditions in January 2020 but applications dropped by 76%.

"The optimism in the UK market is encouraging and is bouncing back to a degree that many might not have expected," said Alex Fourlis, managing director at Broadbean Technology. "However, we're experiencing a talent drought at the moment that is being impacted by multiple issues. An on-going reluctance to leave the security of current roles is certainly one factor that's hitting application numbers, but for industries like retail where job losses were reported during the height of the pandemic, the reality is many people have left for other, more secure, sectors.

"What we're also seeing is the impact of Brexit really playing out across those industries that have historically relied on international talent. The decline in applications for logistics, for example, will no doubt have been exacerbated by the UK's exit from the Bloc."

ParcelHero has warned that driver shortages could soon become critical, leading to delays, stock shortages and higher prices. It estimates that the UK has a shortfall of around 70,000 HGV drivers; the problem is so serious that there have been calls for the army to mobilise to protect the UK's food supplies.

David Jinks, ParcelHero's head of consumer research, said: "Home deliveries of food and goods are already being impacted by the driver shortage, with some stores also running low on stock. We could soon be facing shortages as bad as those at the start of the first lockdown, which could mean a return to the rationing of staple foods.

"The reason is all too obvious. Our analysis of government figures last October showed thousands of EU drivers and warehouse operatives fleeing the UK to avoid Brexit regulations. Many EU citizens didn't meet the government's proposed criteria for skilled work visas. This mass exodus was exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19, which brought the training of new lorry drivers to a standstill."

The Road Haulage Association (RHA), which represents freight transport companies, has called on the government to temporarily suspend drivers' working hours restrictions and place the role of delivery driver on the UK's Shortage Occupation list.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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