Labour market: 'reverse migration means the haulage and logistics jobs sector is fastest growing'

Fri 30 Jul 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Sir James Reed of the eponymous recruitment giant – the UK’s largest – has said that in a topsy-turvy recruitment market, it is actually the haulage and logistics sector that is growing the fastest.

Reed, son of the founder of recruitment company Reed Group Sir Alec Reed, was speaking on Radio 4’s ‘PM’ programme this week.

Jobs boom/skills shortage

He said the jobs marketplace was in an unusual period of flux, with labour shortages simultaneously occurring with a jobs boom. He said: “There are more jobs than there are applicants, but there are also lots of people considering moving jobs, and it’s the most unusual market I’ve ever seen.”

He added: “Shortages are being caused by reverse migration – and it means haulage, transport and logistics is the fastest growing sector on our jobsite at the moment. This is in terms of new jobs, and big shortages of skilled people has exacerbated this.”

Agencies ‘undermining shipper faith in haulage’

Meanwhile Loadstar has published a story quoting hauliers claiming that recruitment agencies are “just moving drivers around” rather than expanding the pool of available drivers, creating an “artificial extension” of the current trucker shortage. 

This is forcing haulage companies to pay drivers more, with the industry losing faith in agency cover, the article says.  

1990s throwback

Reed’s comments come on the back of recent data (July 2021), which shows UK employers are struggling with the worst staff shortages since the late 1990s, amid the rush to reopen from lockdown.

The data – from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation – showed 52% of firms questioned had tried recruiting staff in the last three months, with demand highest for those in transport, logistics and warehousing.

But while job ads for the haulage, transport and logistics sectors are rising, it isn’t necessarily equating to these jobs being filled.

Test centre closures

According to Fleetpoint, “thousands of HGV drivers have left the country” following the UK’s departure from the EU. The complete shutdown of vocational driving test centres throughout much of last year has meant only 15,000 candidates were able to complete their training successfully – a drop of 25,000 from the previous year.

Reed added: “A sign that the market is changing is the fact unemployment in London is 6.5% – which never normally happens.” He said that 300,000 people are predicted to leave London this year as a result of more remote working.

The one good news story, he added, was that pay in traditionally low paid sectors such as warehousing was experiencing a renaissance – perhaps a reflection of current skills shortages – “up 18% for those earning under £25,000 per year”.