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The current labour shortages experienced by employers could last for up to two years, the CBI has warned.
The business lobbying group said the staffing crisis that has hit a number of sectors including logistics, retail and hospitality would not be solved by the closure of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at the end of this month.
Tony Danker, CBI director general, warned that ongoing shortages would have a “negative impact” on the UK’s economic recovery.
The CBI accused government ministers of “waiting for shortages to solve themselves” and urged them to address short-term supply problems with an eye on long-term economic reform.
In the short-term, government should support employers by targeting support schemes such as the Lifetime Skills Guarantee and National Skills Fund to shortage occupations; introducing time-limited flexibility on the apprenticeship levy so firms can divert funds to train people for shortage roles; and temporary access to visas to allow the time for this training to have an impact and a review of the Shortage Occupation List (in particular the inclusion of HGV drivers).
[pullquote]Great economies like great businesses can walk and chew gum. We need short-term fixes to spur recovery and long-term reforms to change our economic model.” - Tony Danker, CBI[/pullquote]Longer term, the CBI wants businesses to step up their investment in training, accelerate diversity and inclusion efforts to draw talent from under-represented groups, invest in digital transformation and automation, and consider how jobs are designed to make them attractive to jobseekers.
Danker said: “While the CBI and other economists still predict growth returning to pre-pandemic levels later this year, furlough ending is not the panacea some people think will magically fill labour supply gaps. These shortages are already affecting business operations and will have a negative impact on the UK’s economic recovery.
“Other European countries are also experiencing staffing shortages as their economies bounce back. In the UK, many overseas workers left during the pandemic affecting sectors including hospitality, logistics and food processing. And new immigration rules make replacing those who left more complex.
“The government’s ambition that the UK economy should become more high-skilled and productive is right. But implying that this can be achieved overnight is simply wrong. And a refusal to deploy temp