When a resourceful Manchester restaurant advertised for a reception desk in July last year, it was shocking to receive 963 applications in one day, not the 30 expected.
That was it then. “It’s very, very different now,” said Carol Cairns, restaurant owner and CEO of D&D London. Its 40-odd canteens get about a tenth of the applicants they had on average last July, և some roles are seriously difficult to fill.
“Our chef’s advertisement usually attracts about 50 applicants. “We are lucky if we have five,” he said, adding that only one or two of those five had the appropriate qualifications.
Welcome to one of Covid’s most exciting developments. A wave of labor shortages in rich countries, even though millions of people still do not have jobs.
While economists discuss the causes and consequences of the phenomenon, such as how much it will cost, the rest of us may be surprised only at how dramatically things have changed.
One of the visible signs of the shift is the range of baits, bonuses and benefits that seemed immoral just months ago when workers encountered a Covid work bloodbath.
The Australian state of Queensland has just started “work in paradise” that offers: $ 1,500 in cash plus subsidized travel to attract the workforce to the tourism industry.
In London, a restaurant in a corner of my office gives customers 100 100 gift vouchers if they can successfully offer a new rental. Another nearby restaurant offers its staff up to բ 2,000 in bonuses if they can do the same.
Collectors even struggle to hire collectors. The competition for the best applicants is “hot now,” said Neil Carbery, executive director of the UK Recruitment and Employment Confederation. “I have never seen such an experienced job market,” he said last week.
Why is this happening now? One of the factors. In some places, a strong economic recovery is increasing the demand for enterprises, all of which are reopening at once. “Everyone is recruiting at the same time,” said Tony Wilson, director of research at the UK Institute for Employment Studies. “It’s very, very unusual.”
Is it possible that schemes և distribute epidemic materials to employees to avoid? Experts disagree, but it is clear that in areas such as hospitality, people have left the field for care homes, supermarkets, other places with better hours, sometimes better pay.
Some countries have increased pressure, which may exacerbate the shortage.
The UK has seen an exodus of EU truck drivers since Brexit, with many industries relying heavily on wave workers. Prior to the UK’s exit from the EU in 2020, 72% of the staff at the D&D London restaurant group were from the EU, 6% from other countries and 22% from the UK.
Strict border rules blamed for labor shortages in Australia և New Zealand, where there is only one dairy producer warned this month that the stress of labor shortages was so severe that it could lead to the loss of “both human and animal lives.”
The struggle to find staff for smaller businesses has intensified.
“It’s awful,” said Nick Ward, a chef from Brighton, UK, who found workers so desperate to turn to friends to help pay for his busy days. He is far from lonely. A few minutes after our conversation last week, he sent an urgent text from the catering contact asking if Ward could come and work for him that day, which he could not.
It is possible to feel great sympathy for those in Ward’s position while at the same time rejoicing to see that people who work real, unpredictable, low-paying hours are finally becoming dominant. According to IES Tony Wilson, some 15 industries are enjoying a buyer market. “The balance of power has shifted,” he said. It may be temporary, but as long as it lasts, employers have no choice but to adjust.