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Why Is It So Hard To Recruit Right Now?

Why Is It So Hard To Recruit Right Now?
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Marketing Consultant - babelmonkey

Lots of people lost their jobs during the pandemic, didn't they? So why is it so hard to recruit really good candidates, and why are certain sectors particularly difficult to recruit for? In this article, we explore the multiple factors impacting the market.

We’re hearing a lot about ‘the job market’ and how difficult it is to recruit. There seems to have been an expectation that, following the series of lockdowns we’ve experienced, businesses would fail and there would be a huge pool of talent for those businesses that survived to choose from. However, it doesn’t seem to have worked out that way. The question is, why?

Unsurprisingly, the answer contains several points - complex issues such as the employment market are seldom based around one key factor! Here, we examine the factors that have influenced the job market over the last couple of years and explain why so many companies are struggling to recruit the right calibre of candidate.



Remember Brexit? Before COVID, our news cycles were dominated by Brexit. And, with Brexit, a large part of the workforce chose to return to their native countries leaving a significant gap in certain industries that historically have relied on this group. Particularly hard hit were Care, Manufacturing, Warehouse and Logistics, and seasonal work such as harvesting and supplying the tourism sector. COVID added to this when our migrant workers who had planned to stay returned home and then lockdown, and/or quarantine procedures, prevented them from returning.



If it takes 21 days to create a habit, imagine what can happen in three months! Furlough gave many people the opportunity to reflect on their lives, to re-evaluate what they want from their careers and how they can make changes to improve their quality of work/life balance when the world returned to ‘normal’. In a poll conducted in August 2020 by Aviva, 47% of workers said they’ve become less career-focused as a result of the pandemic. That’s nearly half the workforce that now gives their home life priority over their working life. How many of them are going to hand in their notice in search of jobs closer to home, that offers less of a commute or shorter working hours or, at the very least, demand a more flexible manner of working at the role they currently hold? 


Universal Credit

This benefit payment has replaced a number of other benefits including Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, and Child Tax Credit, and applies to many people who found themselves out of work when businesses failed as a result of lockdown. However, when it comes to enabling people to find work, there is some scope to develop some flexibility. Currently, whilst people can work and still claim UC, their payments are reduced by 63p for every £1 they earn. With a childless couple over the age of 25, the standard allowance is capped at just £596.58 for them both. There are additional payments for other circumstances, such as children or disability, however, the high rate of reduction once a worker starts employment is less incentive for them to take on lower-paid roles such as are found in the Care, Hospitality, Retail and Leisure, Warehousing, Logistics and Manufacturing sectors, and in seasonal agricultural work.


Risk Aversion

The pandemic has given many workers the chance to consider the security of their positions. Whilst previously, they may not have liked their job, at least they were safe. During the first lockdown, workers were furloughed. Many who perhaps might have been considering a job move put the idea on the back burner. When the lockdown was lifted, some people made the leap and moved to a different company. Then, Lockdown 2 happened and the furlough rules meant if an employee hadn’t been furloughed by their current company prior to a specific date, they were not entitled to furlough. So, a section of people fell through the gap – they’d changed employers, the employer was forced to close – and the new workers weren’t entitled to furlough. With the future remaining uncertain, and rumbles of yet further lockdowns or at the very least, of some kind of restrictions this coming winter, workers are less inclined to risk the security of the employment they’re in to go in search of something new. So, the market is static where it might have been more fluid. 

Students & The Younger Generation

Typically, business owners have relied on students and younger people to fill unskilled or low-skilled roles, particularly in the Leisure and Hospitality sectors. This demographic has been keen to fulfil these roles to give them the money to fund their own leisure activities. However, with many leisure activities, such as festivals, raves, nightclubs, cinemas, etc., not as plentiful as in previous times, the jobs those events offer are also not available. Equally, this demographic is less incentivised to work as there is less for them to spend the money on.

For employers, these factors have resulted in a shrunken talent pool. At a time when businesses really need their workforce to be their crowning glory, finding the right staff member has become more challenging.

On 17th August, our Managing Director, HR Specialist and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Jason Perry, delivered a presentation for the Hastings area Chamber of Commerce, exploring the employment market situation in greater depth, as well as presenting solutions and strategies businesses can use to ensure the quality of their workforce. If you would like a copy of his presentation slides, please email [email protected]

ASL Recruitment was established in 1999 and has been serving Hastings and the surrounding area ever since placing temporary and permanent roles across a variety of sectors including Industrial and Manufacturing, Legal, Finance, Marketing, Technology and Office Support, from junior up to board level. Our co-founder and Managing Director, Jason Perry is an HR specialist and a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. For further information on our recruitment or consultancy services, email  [email protected] or call us on 01424 452999.