The head of Derby-based Sky Recruitment Solutions says the Government must urgently redress a skills shortage ‘pandemic’ made worse by the furlough system.
David Torrington, whose company celebrates its eighth anniversary this year, believes the current difficulties in recruiting suitable candidates across many industries will get many times worse unless drastic action is taken now.
Although he recognises that Brexit may have partially caused the current record 1.2m job vacancies in the UK, David has concerns that the furlough system may have inadvertently helped create skills shortages as well as causing some, particularly the younger generation, to become disenchanted with the workplace.
He believes the furlough system, which allowed people to be paid for not working during the Covid-19 pandemic, was an essential lifeline for millions, but has resulted in many people effectively losing their desire to work.
Many younger people have delayed their career ambitions and, at the other end of the age spectrum, more over-50s than normal have opted to leave the job market altogether after emerging from furlough.
The result is what David describes as a skills pandemic – a huge skills gap that the UK may struggle to address unless other avenues are explored to help employers fill roles.
David said: “Furlough was a great concession by the Government at the time, but recruiters are now paying a very heavy price. Through no fault of its own, the system has created problems, leading to the current shortage of workers, particularly skilled workers.
“Across the board, the furlough system has turned the tables on the job market. Instead of it helping to retain workers with skills and potential, it has created a skills pandemic.
David said the furlough system had generated an entirely new set of challenges for employers.
“Flexible working and working from home used to be a privilege, but now it is expected and often demanded. If employers refuse to bow to these new demands, people are quite simply choosing not to work at all. or are remaining in roles that they may not be entireley happy with, but which offer more flexibillity.
“This is the worst crisis in recruitment I have ever seen, and the Government urgently needs to wake up to the problem and take some meaningful action.”
David has highlighted Derby charity Enthusiasm as a prime example of where the Government should take its inspiration. Enthusiasm has mentored disadvantaged young people and their families for 30 years, encouraging them to gain the skills to fulfil their true potential in the workplace and community, and Sky Recruitment Solutions is teaming up with the organisation to help more young people, their families and community into work.
He said the idea of educating through mentoring was needed on a wide scale in order to not just equip young people with workplace skills, but to also convince their parents and families, who may well have a jaundiced view of the workplace, that gaining skills was a good idea.
“I frequently go into schools and colleges to support their careers programmes, but my influence stops the moment I’ve left the building,” said David. “Input from industry leaders like me needs further reinforcement outside of these institutions with a dedicated mentorship drive by the Government.
“The alternative is what we are seeing now: young people without skills, a mass exit from the workplace by older, skilled workers and a growing sense of entitlement from many who remain in jobs.”
April Allman, CEO of Enthusiasm Trust, said: “We are really pleased that Sky Recruitment is supporting Enthusiasm with its work with disadvantaged young people from some of the hardest to reach communities in Derby.
“The collaboration will improve employment prospects for the local community and experts will hold regular recruitment sessions at Enthusiasm’s Cotton Lane base as well as providing hands-on support with CV writing, interview techniques and the completion of application forms.
“This service will offer employment opportunities within the locations of Osmaston, Allenton and Sinfin and will help lift some of the barriers that disadvantaged young people face when finding a route into employment.”
The Institute for Employment Studies has estimated that the drop in migrant workers, largely caused by Brexit, accounts for only a quarter of the gap in the current worker shortage, while three-fifths is the result of older employees retiring early – and there is a rising number of people claiming they are too ill to work.
Sky Recruitment Solutions, and its Nottingham-based sister company Capella Professional, has nevertheless experienced record growth and turnover since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The business has grown from three offices and eight staff in 2020 to eight offices and 35 staff today. David expects to see these figures rise to 10 offices and 50 staff before the year is out.
Job seekers and employers can discover more information about Sky Recruitment Solutions at www.skyrecruitmentsolutions.co.uk or by calling 01332 650720.