Labour shortages 'could last for up to two years', CBI says, as Defra defends driver recruitment

Mon 6 Sept 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

cargo - lorry

It could be another two years before the ongoing labour shortage impacting UK supply chains and productivity is solved according to the Confederation of British Industry.

Director-general Tony Danker said that while it was “right” that the government wanted to develop the skills of British workers, short-term solutions were needed to help companies now, as the current labour system was unable to respond to their needs.

“A refusal to deploy temporary and targeted interventions to enable economic recovery is self-defeating,” he said.

Limiting productivity

The Times reports that the CBI’s latest Labour Market Insights survey notes that companies are limiting their output due to a lack of workers, with some hotels only opening a fraction of rooms and restaurants having to choose between lunch and dinner service.

According to CBI members, labour shortages are widespread and include forklift drivers, meat processing operatives, fruit and flower pickers, butchers, warehouse operatives, cleaners, chefs, scaffolders, carpenters, welders, electrical engineers and factory workers.

The UK needs to address both short-term economic needs and long-term economic reform, said Danker.

Time to train

"Let’s be clear – employers back existing government schemes to get people back into work. And businesses are already spending significant amounts on training, but that takes time to yield results,” Danker said. “Some CBI members suggest it could take two years rather than a couple of months for labour shortages to be fully eliminated.”

The food industry’s call for short-term visas to attract EU workers and solve a 500,000 job shortage has been “dashed” by the government, claims the Grocer.

A report by the NFU and 11 trade associations last week laid out the extent of the problem and called for 12-month visas as a stopgap solution.

Help already given

However, a spokesperson for Defra said there were already “package of measures” to help tackle the HGV driver shortage.

“We want to see employers make long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad, and our Plan for Jobs is helping people across the country retrain, build new skills and get back into work,” they added.

Furniture store Ikea is the latest firm impacted by a shortage of drivers and is unable to deliver stock, reports the BBC.

Around 1,000 items, or 10% of its stock items are facing supply problems.