Britain is facing a shortage of seasonal workers this Christmas as job seekers shun temporary work amid an ‘abundance’ of roles, new research claims.
According to job site Indeed, as of October 1, the share of seasonal job searches was down 27 percent from the same period in 2019 and 33 percent below the 2018 level.
“With retailers and logistics companies already warning that inventory shortages could lead to empty shelves this Christmas, our analysis shows what employers who rely on seasonal workers are facing,” said Jack Kennedy, UK economist at Indeed.
The ‘shortage’ of applicants is due to job seekers ‘remaining spoiled’, with the country having a record 1.2 million job openings in the three months to October, according to Indeed.
Decline: The number of workers in the UK looking for seasonal jobs has fallen
Many employers are particularly desperate for food server and sales assistant positions. Personal positions currently comprise about 45 percent of seasonal vacancies, Indeed said.
Retail and sales workers may be the most in-demand workers for seasonal positions, but seasonal drivers and warehouse workers are also highly sought after as large groups of consumers continue to shop online.
Speaking to This is Money, an Indeed spokesperson said most of the seasonal jobs offered were between £10 and £20 an hour. But one job for a Santa Claus actor is willing to pay the successful applicant £100 an hour.
Job seekers’ interest in a Christmas job is now only about 11 percent higher than in October 2020, when the second wave of coronavirus was in full swing. “Last year’s figure was kept exceptionally low by a second wave of the pandemic that forced the shutdown of much of the economy.”
Amazon is looking for 20,000 seasonal workers this Christmas, encouraging future employees to take live virtual tours to see what it’s like to work behind the scenes at the online retail giant.
Pay for Operations roles start at a minimum of £10.00 per hour, rising to £11.10 per hour in some parts of the UK for all full-time, part-time, temporary or seasonal positions in Amazon’s fulfillment centres, sorting centers and delivery stations, said the group.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “We prepare for the holiday season all year round and our seasonal employees play an integral role in delivering an exceptional experience for our customers.”
Hiring wave: Amazon aims to fill 20,000 seasonal UK jobs this Christmas
Now in demand: a chart from Indeed showing how demand for seasonal personal jobs has shifted
Deficiencies that are symptomatic of broader problems
Many experts believe that the surge in employers’ demand for seasonal workers will exacerbate existing labor shortages in a number of sectors.
To cite just one example, the global shortage of truck drivers is now forcing shipping giants to move out of Felixstowe harbour, leading to more shortages in UK stores.
Indeed, Mr. Kennedy said, “In a sense, the job market has become a victim of its own success.”
He added: ‘Job seekers are currently spoiled for choice, and our real-time data shows they are less than usual interested in seasonal Christmas jobs.
Lauren Barnett is the founder of Home Hospitality
“With the number of Christmas job searches still about a third lower than where they were in 2018 and 2019, people’s supply just isn’t keeping up with employer demand.
‘A shortage of labor is being felt throughout the economy, both by employers looking for permanent staff and by employers looking for temporary staff.
“There is still time to improve things, but as we approach the peak of the Christmas rental season, the tightness is particularly painful in those parts of the retail sector that rely on Christmas for the bulk of their revenue.
‘For them, the risk of empty staff rooms is just as great as the risk of empty shelves.’
Speaking to This is Money, Lauren Barnett, founder of Home Hospitality, said staff shortages in businesses such as restaurants, cafes and hotels would be “exacerbated” over the Christmas period.
She added: “Restaurants are now frantically trying to differentiate themselves from the recruiting competition, with great job listings on Instagram, referral fees to their staff to recommend their friends, a host of new perks and benefits, along with many other measures.
“But they’re all fighting for the same group of people. The few people who are currently looking for a job in our network are all asking what the Christmas and New Year’s opening times are, because they want to know that ideally they don’t have to work at all during that time.’
Kate Nicholls is the chief executive of UKHospitality
‘The restaurants that close completely during that period are shouting it from the rooftops and therefore do better than most with recruitment.’
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, told This is Money: ‘Hospitality businesses are plagued by a perfect – but growing – storm of labor shortages, supply disruptions and escalating food and utility costs.
“Even more than usual, this Christmas will be a pivotal trading period for pubs, bars, restaurants and other venues struggling on the road to recovery after 18 months of Covid.”
Ms Nicholls added: ‘We really want homegrown talent to fill vacant positions, but that won’t happen overnight.
“We are working with the government to realize this ambition, through career advancement and upskilling of domestic workers. By sticking to a long-term VAT rate of 12.5% for the catering industry, the recovery is guaranteed and companies can grow and invest more in their staff.’
A ManpowerGroup spokesperson told This is Money: “When we compare our applicants to pre-pandemic (2019) figures, we don’t see a decrease in the number of employees, but an increase in the number of vacancies.
Demand is high in the logistics and distribution sector with the growth of online shopping and changing consumer preferences.
“This sector is no different from any other in the UK, 77% of all employers are faced with talent shortages, but the crucial point with logistics is the timing for the holiday period. With the demand for seasonal workers growing, employers need to look for new talent pools to fill the gaps.”
Job vacancies hit another record high of 1.2 million last month as the post-pandemic labor shortage pushed up wages and fueled inflation fears.
The number of available posts rose again, despite unemployment still well above the level before Covid hit – although it fell 0.4 percentage points in the quarter to August.
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