Business

Where have all the workers gone?

When a fashionable Manchester restaurant advertised its reception last July, I was shocked to receive 963 applications in one day. It wasn’t as much as I expected.

That was then. Carol Cairnes, director of restaurant owner D & D London, said: Over 40 eateries averaged about one-tenth of applicants last July, and some positions have proven to be extremely difficult to apply for.

“Our chef’s ads usually attract about 50 applicants. Today, we’re lucky to have five,” she said, and she was properly qualified out of those five. Added that there is only one or two.

Welcome to one of the more interesting Covid developments. In rich countries, labor shortages continue, even though millions of people are still unemployed.

When economists discuss the causes and consequences of this phenomenon, and how long it lasts, the rest of us are only surprised at how sudden things have changed.

One of the visible signs of the shift is the variety of foods, bonuses, and benefits that seemed ridiculous when employees faced a few months ago when they were just bloody on the job of a new coronavirus infection. It is welfare.

Sunny Australia’s Queensland launches “work in paradise” campaign It provides A $ 1,500 in cash (£ 820) plus a subsidized trip to attract workers to the tourism sector, which is suffering from labor shortages.

Provided by Amazon in the United States $ 1,500 Sign on Bonus — $ 100 more if you can prove that you are vaccinated — McDonald’s joins a series of major US groups Raise wages For staff.

In London, a restaurant right next to my office offers a £ 100 gift voucher if you successfully recommend a new employee to a customer. Another restaurant nearby offers staff a bonus of up to £ 2,000 if they can do the same.

Recruiters are having a hard time hiring recruiters. The competition for top applicants is “bright red now,” says Neil Carbury, CEO of the UK Recruiting and Employment Union. “I’ve never seen a market for such an experienced recruitment consultant,” he said last week.

Why is this happening now? One factor is that strong economic recovery in some regions is boosting demand for companies that are resuming from lockdowns all at once. “Everyone is hiring at the same time,” says Tony Wilson, director of the UK Employment Institute’s research group. “It’s very, very unusual.”

Are temporary leave plans and pandemic handouts unfriendly to employees? Experts disagree, but in the hospitality industry, people work short hours, such as in long-term care facilities and supermarkets. It is clear that in some cases we are moving to other high-paying spots.

Some countries are putting pressure on them that can exacerbate the shortage.

Since the UK’s departure from the EU, a large outflow of EU truck drivers has led many industries to rely heavily on workers across the channel. Before the UK left the EU in 2020, 72% of the staff at the D & D London Restaurant Group were from the EU, 6% were from other countries and 22% were British.

In Australia and New Zealand, strict border rules are responsible for labor shortages. Warned this month The stress of labor shortages is so severe that it can lead to “loss of life for both humans and animals.”

The difficulty of securing human resources is especially serious for SMEs.

“It’s scary,” said Nick Ward, a chef from Brighton, England, who was desperate to find a worker and had a friend pay to help him on a busy day. He is not alone. Shortly after we spoke last week, he forwarded an urgent email from a caterer asking if Ward would come that day and work for him, but he couldn’t.

While it is possible to feel great sympathy for those in Ward’s position, we are pleased that those who work unsociable and unpredictable hours for a small wage are finally in the lead. As Tony Wilson of IES says, some industries have enjoyed the buyer’s market for most of the last 15 years. “There is a change in power balance,” he says. It may be temporary, but as long as it continues, the employer has no choice but to make adjustments.

pilita.clark@ft.com

twitter: @pilitaclark



Where have all the workers gone?

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