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10,500 foreign visas get Government green light as panic grows of Christmas supply chain crisis


Boris Johnson insists on a pay rise for truckers and will send a million of them morale-booster letters

Boris Johnson has called on HGV bosses to give drivers a pay rise as the Prime Minister prepares to send them one million morale-boosting letters in the run-up to Christmas.

Ministers are said to be urging up to 40,000 retired hauliers to return to action in a last-gasp bid to save Christmas, as retailers warned the Government it has less than two weeks to prepare for the festive season.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is to personally sign off on a million morale-boosting letters urging drivers who turned away from the industry to get back on Britain’s roads.

The move comes amid a nationwide panic-buying spree at petrol stations and growing fear inside Downing Street that supermarket shelves could remain barren until December 25.

More than 10,000 temporary foreign visas will be fast-tracked by the Government as ministers rush to solve the supply chain crisis that’s threatening Christmas.

5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers will be given extraordinary three-month visas allowing them to work in the UK until Christmas Eve.

The move comes amid a nationwide panic-buying spree at petrol stations and growing fear inside Downing Street that supermarket shelves could remain barren until Christmas.   

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes, with the visas available from next month, would ‘ensure preparations remain on track’ for the festive season.

But the Road Haulage Association warned the announcement ‘barely scratches the surface’, while the British Chambers of Commerce said the measures were the equivalent of ‘throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire’.

Retailers had warned the Government that it had just 10 days to save Christmas from ‘significant disruption’ due to a shortfall of about 90,000 drivers in the freight sector.

It comes as thousands of desperate drivers ignored Government pleas for calm as they jammed roads – with fears mounting over the impact of lasting fuel shortages on the economy. 

Furious motorists were seen fighting on Saturday as the nationwide rush for fuel continued amid calls for calm from the Government because less than 100 petrol stations were empty.

Shocking footage showed panic buyers punch and kick at each other during a violent brawl at an Esso petrol forecourt in Sidlesham, Chicester, as roads were left gridlocked and police had to be called in to marshal drivers.

Two men were seen grappling before throwing punches at one another, while another enraged motorist launched a flying kick at another man as the scramble for fuel turned violent in the sleepy West Sussex village.

5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers will be given extraordinary three-month visas allowing them to work in the UK until Christmas Eve

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (above) said the changes, with the visas available from next month, would 'ensure preparations remain on track' for the festive season

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (above) said the changes, with the visas available from next month, would ‘ensure preparations remain on track’ for the festive season

The shortage of HGV drivers has long threatened to wreak havoc this winter, and it has been exacerbated by a huge backlog in HGV tests due to Covid, as well as foreign drivers returning home amid the pandemic and Brexit. 

Are you a company boss telling staff to work from home on Monday due to employees not being able to get fuel? 

Or has your boss told you to work from home due to you not being able to get hold of fuel?

Email: james.robinson@mailonline.co.uk 

Industry groups the Food and Drink Federation and Logistics UK both welcomed the visa changes, with federation chief Ian Wright calling the measures ‘pragmatic’.

But British Chamber of Commerce president Baroness McGregor-Smith said the changes were the ‘equivalent of throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire’, and that  the 5,000 new visas may be too little, too late to halt the chaos.    

Meanwhile, Marc Fels, director of the HGV Recruitment Centre, told BBC Breakfast the move was ‘too little, too late’.

He said: ‘Every additional driver that is coming into the sector at the moment is going to be of benefit.

‘But I feel this is too little, because the numbers coming in, 5,000, is not going to make a very large dent on the 90,000-100,000 that we are perceived to be short.

‘And too late because we have been understanding these problems have been coming as early as April this year, so we are moving into October and only now are the Government coming up with these solutions when this has been an issue since April.’

The announcement about immigration rules being relaxed to ease supply pressures comes amid scenes of lengthy queues at petrol stations after a shortage of specialised tanker drivers forced some fuel retailers to shut their pumps and ration sales.

As well as the short-term measure of opening up to foreign workers, the Ministry of Defence is also stepping in to provide examiners to help clear a backlog of drivers desperately trying to get their licences. 

A Shell garage employee holds a sign on the side of the road informing traffic that they do not have unleaded petrol

A Shell garage employee holds a sign on the side of the road informing traffic that they do not have unleaded petrol

Some had multiple jerry cans in the boot of their cars and spent time filling each up while others queued for hours to reach the pump. Pictured: Customers queuing in their cars to access an Asda petrol station in east London on Saturday

Some had multiple jerry cans in the boot of their cars and spent time filling each up while others queued for hours to reach the pump. Pictured: Customers queuing in their cars to access an Asda petrol station in east London on Saturday

HGV boss is accused of triggering petrol pump crisis 

A former BBC boss opposed to Brexit has been accused of triggering the petrol pump crisis.

Ministers say Rod McKenzie sparked the nationwide panic-buying frenzy by selectively leaking remarks made by a BP executive at a private Government meeting. Senior sources suggested he ‘weaponised’ the comments to deflect blame for the UK’s supply chaos.

Mr McKenzie, who ran BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat for more than two decades before joining the Road Haulage Association, last night denied the claim.

As managing director of policy for the RHA, he has blamed post-Brexit immigration restrictions for the crisis in the industry and has been leading calls for the Government to lift visa restrictions to allow more foreign drivers into the country.

The fuel crisis began to snowball last week after comments made by Hanna Hofer, head of BP’s retail business, at a Cabinet Office meeting were leaked. On September 16, Ms Hofer told civil servants, hauliers and other industry figures that the company had ‘two-thirds of normal forecourt stock levels’.

According to a senior Government source, however, she also said the situation had been ‘going on for weeks’ and that very few forecourts had had to close.

Crucially, those additional comments – which Government insiders believe would have prevented or at least reduced the panic-buying of fuel – were not made public.

BP denied that any of its staff were behind the leak, with a spokeswoman saying it ‘would have been completely counter-productive’. 

Officials said the loan of MoD examiners to work alongside Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) employees would help put on ‘thousands of extra tests’ over the next 12 weeks.

Meanwhile, nearly one million letters will be landing in the coming days on the doormats of people with HGV licences to encourage those who have left the industry to return.

The letter will set out the steps the haulage sector is taking to improve industry conditions, including increased wages, flexible working and fixed hours, according to the Department for Transport.

Mr Shapps said: ‘This package of measures builds on the important work we have already done to ease this global crisis in the UK, and this Government continues to do everything we can to help the haulage and food industries contend with the HGV driver shortage.

‘We are acting now but the industries must also play their part, with working conditions continuing to improve and the deserved salary increases continuing to be maintained in order for companies to retain new drivers.

‘After a very difficult 18 months, I know how important this Christmas is for all of us and that’s why we’re taking these steps at the earliest opportunity to ensure preparations remain on track.’

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated a global shortage of lorry drivers, although there have been long-term issues in the UK with labour numbers amid an ageing workforce, low wages and poor truck stop conditions.

The DfT said it recognised that importing foreign labour ‘will not be the long term solution’ to the problem and that it wanted to see investment poured into establishing a robust domestic workforce.

Officials said the Government continued to support solving the high vacancy rate through improved testing and hiring, with better pay, working conditions and diversity.

Another long-term measure to turn the situation around will see the Department for Education plough up to £10 million into creating new ‘skills bootcamps’ to train up to 3,000 more people to become HGV drivers.

The free, intensive courses will train drivers to undertake an entry level HGV licence (Category C) or a more advanced course to operate heavier and longer lorries (Category C&E). 

A motorist lays out a half dozen fuel containers on the floor of the forecourt in Upminster to fill her boot with fuel while desperate drivers queue for hours behind

A motorist lays out a half dozen fuel containers on the floor of the forecourt in Upminster to fill her boot with fuel while desperate drivers queue for hours behind

The problems were triggered after BP and Esso admitted on Thursday that a lack of tanker drivers was hitting deliveries (pictured, gridlock at a petrol station in Tonbridge)

The problems were triggered after BP and Esso admitted on Thursday that a lack of tanker drivers was hitting deliveries (pictured, gridlock at a petrol station in Tonbridge)

A BP at Hampton Court says 'Sorry we're out of diesel' after frenzied buying saw stations swamped by panicked customers

A BP at Hampton Court says ‘Sorry we’re out of diesel’ after frenzied buying saw stations swamped by panicked customers

A major shortage of HGV drivers threatens to wreak havoc this winter, and the shortage has been exacerbated by a huge backlog in HGV tests due to Covid

A major shortage of HGV drivers threatens to wreak havoc this winter, and the shortage has been exacerbated by a huge backlog in HGV tests due to Covid

BBC comes under fire for ‘pretending driver crisis is all about Brexit’ 

The BBC came under fire last night for ignoring the fact that the HGV driver shortage has affected countries throughout the world.

Around 400,000 drivers are needed across mainland Europe, including shortfalls of 40,000 in Germany.

In America, there is a shortfall of around 63,000 while China needs about four million extra drivers, according to the International Road Transport Union.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who trained as an HGV driver, accused the BBC of selective reporting.

He said: ‘The BBC insists on making this about Brexit and pretending that this is a problem confined to the UK.

‘This is a Covid issue affecting not just the whole of Europe but the world. I don’t understand why they are doing this but it is deeply misleading and the kind of reporting that leads to panic buying, as we have seen.’

France has faced a shortage of around 43,000 drivers since 2019, when the shortfall in Italy was estimated to be around 15,000, according to analysts Transport Intelligence.

Another 1,000 people are expected to be trained through courses accessed locally and funded by the Government’s adult education budget.

Those accessing medical and HGV licences through the adult budget in the 2021/22 academic year will have their qualifications paid for by the state, with the funding backdated to anyone who started one of these qualifications on or after August 1.

More DVSA examiners will also be freed up to conduct lorry driver tests via a law change to allow driving examiners at the three emergency services and the MoD to be able to conduct driving tests for one another.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘HGV drivers keep this country running.

‘We are taking action to tackle the shortage of drivers by removing barriers to help more people to launch new well-paid careers in the industry, supporting thousands to get the training they need to be road ready.’

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: ‘We have listened to concerns from the sector and we are acting to alleviate what is a very tight labour market.’

The Government said it had already streamlined the process for new HGV drivers while increasing the number of driving tests available to allow for an extra 50,000 tests to take place per year.

Meanwhile, Grant Shapps, writing in the Mail on Sunday today, said some firms were offering more than £70,000 to encourage people to get into the HGV industry.

He wrote: ‘First, there are nearly one million people with HGV licences across the country. So we are launching a call through the media to re-recruit inactive lorry drivers all over the UK.

‘These are people who have left the industry but still hold a licence. In the next few days, letters will hit doormats throughout the land, reminding them that they can support the country during this crucial time while earning a salary never before available for expertly driving a lorry. 

Supply problems are expected to cause a noticeable drop in choice, casting Britain back to an era 50 years ago when most shoppers were offered just basic ingredients. Pictured: A shopper looks at a meat fridge at a Lidl supermarket in Walthamstow, West London

Supply problems are expected to cause a noticeable drop in choice, casting Britain back to an era 50 years ago when most shoppers were offered just basic ingredients. Pictured: A shopper looks at a meat fridge at a Lidl supermarket in Walthamstow, West London

Another said the ¿systemic¿ problem has already spread to products like crisps and fizzy drinks thanks also in part to a shortage of CO2. Pictured: Bottles of water and crisps at a Pret a Manger store in London

Another said the ‘systemic’ problem has already spread to products like crisps and fizzy drinks thanks also in part to a shortage of CO2. Pictured: Bottles of water and crisps at a Pret a Manger store in London

Forecourt fury turns violent as drivers queuing to fill up exchange blows, while elsewhere motorists fill jerry cans and BP, Esso, Shell and Texaco limit drivers to £30 each 

Furious motorists were seen fighting as the nationwide rush for fuel continued yesterday, amid calls for calm from the Government because less than 100 petrol stations are empty.

Shocking footage showed panic buyers punching and kicking at each other during a violent brawl at an Esso petrol forecourt in Sidlesham, Chicester, as roads were left gridlocked and police had to be called in to marshal drivers.

Two men were seen grappling before throwing punches at one another, while another enraged motorist launched a flying kick at another man as the scramble for fuel turned violent in the sleepy West Sussex village.

Thousands of desperate drivers ignored Government pleas for calm as they jammed roads – with fears mounting over the impact of lasting fuel shortages on the economy.

Photographs yesterday online showing drivers stocking up on fuel. Just one per cent of Britain’s petrol stations are empty, according to fuel bosses.

Some had multiple jerry cans in the boot of their cars and spent time filling each up while others queued for hours to reach the pump. Meanwhile, around 400 stations owned by the EG Group are limiting customers to £30 worth of petrol to give everyone a ‘fair chance to refuel’.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson revealed a visa U-turn for 5,000 foreign truck drivers to try to stem the shortage.

There are currently about 8,350 filling stations in the UK and less than 100 of them have been forced to close due to shortages. However, the Petrol Retailer’s Association has warned the situation could get worse before it improves.

BP said around 20 of its 1,200 petrol forecourts were closed due to a lack of available fuel, with between 50 and 100 sites affected by the loss of at least one grade of fuel.

A ‘small number’ of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted, said Esso owner ExxonMobil, which runs the sites. 

President of the AA Edmund King reiterated on Saturday there there ‘is plenty of fuel at the source’ and no need to stock up.

‘Next, up to 4,000 new recruits will be able to take advantage of Government funding to train as road-ready HGV drivers. The Department for Education is investing up to £10 million to create new Skills Bootcamps, offering a free, intensive course for 3,000 people, while another 1,000 will be trained through local courses funded by our Adult Education Budget. 

‘This is a fantastic opportunity to start a career in a fast-growing sector offering rising salaries.

‘The industry is rapidly improving pay and conditions, with some companies offering over £70,000 to drivers. As the sector continues to improve, now is the time for anyone who left the industry to return – and anyone looking for a fruitful career to join.’  

It comes as supermarkets are preparing for months of shortages that will leave gaps on shelves for everything from crisps and meat to toilet paper and flour.

Supply problems are expected to cause a noticeable drop in choice, casting Britain back to an era 50 years ago when most shoppers were offered just basic ingredients and a wider choice of food and household products was limited.

Sources said the impact – the result of a host of problems including a shortage of HGV drivers and a spike in demand for shipping containers worldwide as the global economy restarts after the pandemic – would be most fiercely felt on inexpensive but bulky goods such as toilet paper, pre-packed bread and chilled goods.

‘Whether it’s attracting people to work in factories, fields, food processing plants or to drive lorries – it feels like the whole food and supermarket industry is grinding to a halt,’ said one senior food industry source.

Another said the ‘systemic’ problem has already spread to products like crisps and fizzy drinks thanks also in part to a shortage of CO2.

‘We’re already anticipating there’ll be two or three types of beef joint instead of six or seven, or a much smaller range of tomatoes. 

;Toilet paper is a good example because it requires a lot of space to transport from one place to another and space in lorries is at a premium right now.

‘The aim will be to get products on to shelves but not anything like a full range of pack sizes and options – so don’t expect to match your toilet paper colour to your downstairs toilet wallpaper,’ the source said.

Supermarkets and convenience stores have been trying to hide gaps for weeks – often placing cans of alcohol or other less perishable goods in refrigerated cabinets which had previously held salads and ready-meals.

One supermarket director said: ‘This isn’t going away and it’s difficult to say right now what the solution is because there are so many factors. It’s a complete nightmare.

‘Suppliers don’t have drivers, their Eastern European workforces in processing factories went home during the pandemic or, more recently, for their summer holidays and simply haven’t come back. We are hearing these stories everywhere we go.’

Another director said firms are having to make tough decisions about where to direct lorries because of driver shortages.

Remote areas are more likely to suffer shortages as vehicles are diverted to high-demand sites where stock was likely to run out much more quickly.  

Let’s get trucking for Britain, you can earn £70,000! Transport Secretary GRANT SHAPPS launches call to attract inactive lorry drivers and announces Government funding to train 4,000 new recruits

By Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, for Mail on Sunday 

Britain’s HGV drivers are the lifeblood of the nation. Some 90 per cent of domestic freight is carried by road, and that includes virtually all our food and agricultural produce.

In the depths of the Covid pandemic, hundreds of thousands of drivers kept going, delivering the protective gear and medicines that sustained the fight against this most mortal of threats.

Logistics is a core industry, vital to our economy. But let’s be honest: our haulage drivers are undervalued.

This is a tough job, involving long hours alone at the wheel, often in the middle of the night as the rest of us sleep.

Constant attention is required to control vehicles weighing up to 44 tons and travelling at 56mph. You must train hard to become a HGV driver – it is a real skill requiring extensive and expensive training.

Yet wages and conditions in the industry have for years failed to reflect the inherent importance of the job.

GRANT SHAPPS: There are nearly one million people with HGV licences across the country. So we are launching a call through the media to re-recruit inactive lorry drivers all over the UK

A structural reliance on the use of drivers from Europe has over the years depressed wage levels and driven away British candidates, resulting in an ageing – average age 50-plus – and almost exclusively male workforce. Truck stops are often grim places, lacking adequate facilities, not reflecting the esteem in which hauliers should be held. This has to change.

This long-term structural problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic. HGV driving tests had to be halted due to the risk from strangers mixing in lorry cabs, creating a bottleneck that is still working through the system. By contrast, Brexit was a relatively minor contributor to a problem in the UK that is replicated in Germany and even worse in Poland. Indeed, our newfound flexibility has enabled me to change the law to allow more HGV testing to take place.

Driver shortages are a pan-European problem so the situation here in the UK cannot be solved by relying for evermore on foreign labour.

Currently, much of the world is witnessing post-pandemic turbulence in supply chains caused by driver shortages.

In the UK in recent months, this manifested itself by, for example, the occasional pump missing a particular grade of fuel – say super unleaded for half a day. However, what we have seen over the past couple of days is panic-buying that we must ensure doesn’t turn a very limited problem into a far bigger one. So let’s not fall into the ‘toilet roll’ trap of the early pandemic and by our own behaviour create the problem we fear.

Cars can take only a certain amount of fuel, refineries are running properly and deliveries are being made. So if we stick to our normal petrol-buying habits, this will allow the supply chain to catch up and stability to be restored.

Over the summer, the Government already acted to remove bottlenecks in HGV-driver testing. As a result, we are already on our way to being able to test twice as many candidates to drive lorries as before the pandemic. Today we’re announcing a package to go even further to attract people into the industry and tackle the driver shortfall on a permanent basis.

Currently, much of the world is witnessing post-pandemic turbulence in supply chains caused by driver shortages. In the UK in recent months, this manifested itself by, for example, the occasional pump missing a particular grade of fuel

Currently, much of the world is witnessing post-pandemic turbulence in supply chains caused by driver shortages. In the UK in recent months, this manifested itself by, for example, the occasional pump missing a particular grade of fuel

First, there are nearly one million people with HGV licences across the country. So we are launching a call through the media to re-recruit inactive lorry drivers all over the UK.

These are people who have left the industry but still hold a licence. In the next few days, letters will hit doormats throughout the land, reminding them that they can support the country during this crucial time while earning a salary never before available for expertly driving a lorry.

Next, up to 4,000 new recruits will be able to take advantage of Government funding to train as road-ready HGV drivers. The Department for Education is investing up to £10 million to create new Skills Bootcamps, offering a free, intensive course for 3,000 people, while another 1,000 will be trained through local courses funded by our Adult Education Budget. This is a fantastic opportunity to start a career in a fast-growing sector offering rising salaries.

The industry is rapidly improving pay and conditions, with some companies offering over £70,000 to drivers. As the sector continues to improve, now is the time for anyone who left the industry to return – and anyone looking for a fruitful career to join.

The industry is rapidly improving pay and conditions, with some companies offering over £70,000 to drivers and up to 4,000 new recruits will be able to take advantage of Government funding to train as road-ready HGV drivers

The industry is rapidly improving pay and conditions, with some companies offering over £70,000 to drivers and up to 4,000 new recruits will be able to take advantage of Government funding to train as road-ready HGV drivers

Market correction – better wages and conditions – combined with an expansion in HGV testing will provide the long-term cure. But we acknowledge that shorter-term measures are required to ease the situation in the approach to Christmas. To surge the country’s driver- testing capacity, we are also deploying Ministry of Defence examiners to work alongside the testing agency DVSA. This expert team will help provide thousands of additional tests over the next 12 weeks, meaning new highly qualified HGV drivers will soon be on our streets. It’s going to make a real difference, and I’m hugely grateful for their help.

Tests will be available for participants as close as possible to the time they complete training and streamlined arrangements will mean that drivers can pass their tests much faster. And to ease these short-term pressures on hauliers ahead of Christmas, we are also issuing 5,000 one-off, temporary visas allowing HGV drivers from abroad to come and work in the UK in the food and fuel industries.

Looking ahead, we will conduct a full review of entry regulations for new and returning HGV drivers, looking at removing any barriers to recruitment. And the Government is working closely with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and employers to boost apprenticeships on offer for large-goods vehicle drivers and increasing choice.

It is vital, too, that we broaden the appeal of HGV driving to a much more diverse section of society. Deservedly, salaries have started to rise, but employers must do more to improve pay and working conditions, offering flexible shifts and fixed hours, and mak-ing the job more attractive to women, people from ethnic minorities and younger people. The haulage industry must play its part and accept that the days of cheap foreign labour are not going to return. It must pay the going rate.

The whole country owes the haulage industry a debt of thanks for the way it rose to the challenge of Covid, saving thousands of lives in the process.

Today’s announcements will ensure that the industry can meet its next big challenge – recruiting the next generation of drivers.

Let’s get driving for Britain. 

 

UK needs nearly TWO MILLION workers: Active job posts reveal bosses are crying out for 55,019 care staff, 36, 471 chefs, 32,615 sales assistants – amid urgent calls to relax immigration rules to ease crisis

UK job advert numbers have reached the highest figure in at least a year, with almost two million positions currently being offered, newly released figures have revealed.

Job market data from September 13 to September 19 shows more than 220,000 new job adverts were posted, bringing the total number of active job adverts to 1.9million.

According to the figures, there were 36,000 new adverts for chefs, around 32,000 for sales assistants and 6,500 for bar staff in that period.

The figures for hospitality jobs are likely to reflect the country opening back up in the wake of Covid-19 rules being lifted.

But the job advert figures also show more than 7,500 job adverts have been posted for HGV drivers in the UK in the last week. Some offer salaries upward of £50,000-a-year. 

The flurry of job adverts comes amid a shortage of lorry drivers across the UK.

The Road Haulage Association estimate the UK to be short of 100,000 HGV drivers.

Brexit and Covid are among the major reasons put forward by transport groups and ministers for the shortage, which has sparked chaos for the UK’s transport industry.  

Job market data from September 13 to September 19 shows firms in the UK need, in total, more than 36,000 chefs, around 32,000 sales assistants and 6,500 bar staff

Job market data from September 13 to September 19 shows firms in the UK need, in total, more than 36,000 chefs, around 32,000 sales assistants and 6,500 bar staff

UK job advert numbers have reached the highest figure in at least a year, with almost two million positions currently being offered, newly released figures have revealed. Pictured: A graph showing the number of job adverts being offered in the UK

UK job advert numbers have reached the highest figure in at least a year, with almost two million positions currently being offered, newly released figures have revealed. Pictured: A graph showing the number of job adverts being offered in the UK

A breakdown of the figures by each area, with the most number of active job postings currently in the south east

A breakdown of the figures by each area, with the most number of active job postings currently in the south east

A breakdown of the figures by different job types, including cleaners, care workers and chefs

A breakdown of the figures by different job types, including cleaners, care workers and chefs

More than 500,000 over-50s have withdrawn from UK labour market since Covid, says employment expert

More than 500,000 over-50s have withdrawn from the UK labour market since the start of the Covid pandemic, according to an employment expert.

The sudden withdrawal of hundreds of thousands of staff, plus a drop in the number of migrant workers and an increase in the number of students has led to record numbers of job vaccancies, according to Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘It’s right (that there are fewer workers around). The labour market is much smaller than it was before the pandemic began.

‘We estimate that there is about a million fewer people in the labour market now than there were before the crisis began and probably about a quarter of that is explained by lower migration and that’s mainly lower immigration since the pandemic rather than higher emigration.

‘About 500,000 of that is explained by more people over 50 who have withdrawn from the labour market. That’s compared with what we would have expected to happen, because over 50s employment and labour market participation has been growing for decades, but that growth has now reversed.

‘So it’s about half a million is explained by over 50s, while 300,000 is explained by young people in full time education – so more young people more in education.’

‘And there is a little bit which is furlough, which is ending next week, but it looks like that may only be between 200,000-300,000 workers, so it could be around one million workers.’ 

Asked what the sudden spike in over-50s dropping from the labour market, he said: ‘It’s a combination of factors. A lot will be the pandemic. It will be people who will have been furloughed, who have taken time away from the labour market and simply aren’t returning.

‘Some of it will be people who feel they can’t go back to work, they may have been shielding for example and may come back in the future.’ 

 

According to the figures, from the 13-19 September, there were 1.9 million active job adverts currently active in the UK.  

The figures are from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC)’s latest Job Recovery Tracker – which tracks the number of job adverts and there different sectors they are in.

The 1.9million figure is a new record high for the tracker, which started collecting data in January 2020. 

According to the tracker, there were 223,000 new job adverts posted in the week of 13-19 September.

The biggest surge in new jobs was in the care sector, where more than 55,000 new job adverts were posted during that period.

There were also more than 30,000 adverts for chefs, sales assistants and primary school teachers.

More than 28,000 new job adverts also appeared for cleaners and 22,000 for metal workers. 

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said the figures were ‘good news’.  But he warned that a shortage in labour could slow the UK’s recovery from Covid.

He said: ‘Job postings are rising in every area of the UK. That’s good news, and we are seeing more employees starting new positions than ever – but demand from employers is even higher still. 

‘There is a real chance now that shortages of available workers will slow the recovery.

‘A recent REC survey of recruiters found that three in five have over 30% more vacancies than usual, and 97% said it’s taking longer to fill them. 

‘Labour shortages and the related recruitment difficulties put constraints on the economy, restricting output growth and innovation, so it’s vital we solve them quickly.’

Mr Carberry urged Government departments and industry experts to come together to solve the shortage.

It comes as employment expert claimed more than 500,000 over-50s have withdrawn from the UK labour market since the start of the Covid pandemic.

The sudden withdrawal of hundreds of thousands of staff, plus a drop in the number of migrant workers and an increase in the number of students has led to record numbers of job vaccancies, according to Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘It’s right (that there are fewer workers around). The labour market is much smaller than it was before the pandemic began.

‘We estimate that there is about a million fewer people in the labour market now than there were before the crisis began and probably about a quarter of that is explained by lower migration and that’s mainly lower immigration since the pandemic rather than higher emigration. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested adding HGV drivers to the skilled worker list for immigration purposes would not solve the problem, although he insisted he nothing had been ruled out

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested adding HGV drivers to the skilled worker list for immigration purposes would not solve the problem, although he insisted he nothing had been ruled out

Agricutlure Secretary George Eustice has indicated that the government is preparing to extend the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) this year to help tackle the UK's HGV crisis

Agricutlure Secretary George Eustice has indicated that the government is preparing to extend the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) this year to help tackle the UK’s HGV crisis

‘About 500,000 of that is explained by more people over 50 who have withdrawn from the labour market. That’s compared with what we would have expected to happen, because over 50s employment and labour market participation has been growing for decades, but that growth has now reversed.

‘So it’s about half a million is explained by over 50s, while 300,000 is explained by young people in full time education – so more young people more in education.

‘And there is a little bit which is furlough, which is ending next week, but it looks like that may only be between 200,000-300,000 workers, so it could be around one million workers.’

Asked what the sudden spike in over-50s dropping from the labour market, he said: ‘It’s a combination of factors. A lot will be the pandemic. It will be people who will have been furloughed, who have taken time away from the labour market and simply aren’t returning.

‘Some of it will be people who feel they can’t go back to work, they may have been shielding for example and may come back in the future.’ 



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