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The UK's other labour shortage

A dearth of white-collar workers is hampering companies' growth prospects – and could get worse before it gets better
The UK's other labour shortage

Job vacancies in the UK are at an all time high. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 1.29mn positions waiting to be filled in the first quarter of 2022, nearly 500,000 more than before the pandemic struck. Some industries are clearly floundering: British Airways’ staffing disaster reflects wider problems in aviation, while job adverts still fill the windows of many pubs and restaurants. 

Less conspicuous are shortages in the ‘white-collar’ workforce. But recruiters have warned that a dearth of professional talent is undermining companies’ long-term growth, and thwarting their digitisation plans.

In absolute terms, there are three UK sectors most in need of staff. At the top of the list is health and social care, which posted 216,000 vacancies between January and March 2022. Then comes accommodation and food services, which is looking to fill 164,000 posts. In an unexpected third place, however, are professional, scientific & technical activities – sometimes categorised as ‘‘professional services’ – which need 131,000 new recruits. 

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