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UK ‘faces labour shortage’ as Covid, Brexit fuel exodus of overseas workers

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A person looks at the adverts in the window of a job agency in London, Britain October 13, 2020. (Reuters photo)

The UK’s employers are struggling to hire staff as pubs, restaurants and other hospitality and travel firms got ready for Monday's lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

Employers plan to hire at the fastest rate in eight years, but there has been a fall in EU workers and interest in UK jobs from abroad has dwindled, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the recruitment firm Adecco.

Also, a survey by job search website Adzuna, which is tracked by government officials for early warning signs from the labour market, shows that there more than 10 jobs on offer for every job-seeker in some cities.

Job adverts on Adzuna soared to 987,800 in the first week of May, up by 18% from the end of March, which was before the reopening of non-essential retailers and hospitality firms for outdoor service on April 12.

A further lifting of restrictions to allow pub and restaurants to serve customers indoors is slated to take place in England and Wales on Monday.

The jobs website found the number of overseas job searches from western Europe and North America had halved – a fall of around 250,000 – since February 2020, just before Covid-19 spread to the UK.

A lot of workers have decided not to look for hospitality and retail jobs in favor of more secure work after three lockdowns in the past year, it said.

“There is hot competition for staff, with many hospitality and retail workers having left the industry to look for more secure work after the ups and downs of the last year,” Andrew Hunter, a co-founder of the job search engine, said.

“There are also far fewer foreign workers seeking employment in the UK, with overseas interest in UK jobs more than halving from before the pandemic, hitting these industries hard. UK employers can no longer rely on overseas workers to plug employment gaps.”

"UK employers can no longer rely on overseas workers to plug employment gaps," Hunter said.

A combination of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic are said to have reduced the number of foreign workers in the UK.

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