Covid outbreaks seem to be deterring jobseekers from applying for new roles, with new data showing employers are having to offer higher salaries to attract applicants in areas where cases of the Delta variant are rising sharply.
According to job board CV-Library, there is a “clear pattern” of pay increases in areas where infection levels are high, such as the North West and the Midlands.
Liverpool topped the table for increases in the average pay offered in June compared with the same period last month, with salaries up 10.3%. Wolverhampton, Derby, Coventry and Nottingham also featured in the top 10, with increases of 4.7%, 4.7%, 4.6% and 2.6%, respectively.
Portsmouth, where Delta variant cases increased sevenfold between June 2 and June 9, recorded the second highest salary increase at 7.5%.
Lee Biggins, CEO and founder of CV-Library, said: “Businesses are fighting harder than ever to make it to the end of lockdown restrictions. Recruitment is the cornerstone of both survival and longevity and it’s clear to see that, in the most competitive areas, businesses are rising to the challenge and stepping up their efforts.
“With news that restrictions will continue for an additional four weeks, offering enhanced salaries and the most competitive packages will do much to entice the many jobseekers that remain hesitant in these uncertain times and give businesses the chance to hit the ground running on 19th July.”
Other factors at play
However, it’s clear that while Covid is one issue leading employers to have to work harder to attract new talent, it’s not the only one.
According to Alex Fourlis, Managing Director at job boards network Broadbean Technology, there are a number of factors at play.
“We’re experiencing a talent drought at the moment that is being impacted by multiple issues. An ongoing 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.”
Broadbean reported a further fall in application numbers in May, despite an increase in job vacancies during the same month. The retail and logistics sectors were especially impacted by mismatches between supply and demand.
According to the Broadbean data, vacancies across retail increased by 55% in the three months to May, but over the same period the number of applications per vacancy fell by 52%.
The number of openings across logistics, distribution and supply chain were up 79% in May compared to pre-pandemic levels in January 2020, but the number of people applying for these roles fell 76% over the same time frame.
Broadbean said that this reflected a consistent trend seen in 2021 so far, with vacancy numbers more than doubling (up 133%) since January this year, but the number of applicants falling further each month since then.
Young the key to filling ‘vacancies vacuum’?
One solution offered up to alleviate the skills shortages in industries such as logistics and also hospitality – where the dearth of workers has been widely reported in recent months – is to bring more young people into the workforce.
That was the suggestion of West Midlands-based recruitment specialist Pertemps last week, which called on the government to take action to encourage young people into the jobs market.
Carmen Watson, Chair at Pertemps, said there had been a rise in both permanent and contingent vacancies, especially in sectors such as hospitality, food manufacturing and logistics.
However, she added there had been a “sea change in candidates’ career choices as a result of the pandemic” and that a change in strategy was needed.
“An ongoing concern is the economic inactivity rate of young people and we would urge employers to consider greater use of apprenticeships and traineeships to grow our future talent. This will undoubtedly need support from central government if we are going to fill this vacancies vacuum.”
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