The latest Report on Jobs for April 2019 is out and with all the economic uncertainty around us, it’s great to see that business is still cracking on with what we do best in the UK… carrying on regardless.  Business still has to be done and profits still have to be made if we are to sustain and grow our industry sectors.

With the latest Jobs Outlook report from KPMG/REC, the North seems to be bucking the trend across the UK with the number of permanent job vacancies increasing sharply in the North and at a quicker pace than the UK average, registering the fastest rate of growth for six months.  Similarly, temporary positions in the North of England increased at a sharper pace than in March too.

The latest official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the number of staff vacancies rose by 3.9% year-on-year in the three months to March.  Once again, the report shows there is genuine concern across all sectors relating to skills shortages.


Across the UK and other developed nations, there is an increasing move towards an ‘hourglass’ jobs market, with rising demand for both high and low skilled labour and a shortage in the pool of available candidates to fulfil demand (hence the hourglass). The hourglass jobs market, whether we like it or not, is upon us. The increasing fusion between the technical, digital, physical and biological, has driven (and will continue to drive) already strong demand for highly skilled labour.

Lower skilled jobs will also increase. This is because while the semi routine nature of many middle-skilled occupations are vulnerable to automation, traditionally low-skilled occupations often involve skills not readily automated and so demand is inevitable.  So much so that we are seeing big chains like Travelodge in the news recently for turning to alternative ideas to fill their Brexit fuelled staff shortages. These changes create internal infrastructure issues in themselves, but the pain of change is more palatable than the alternative.

There is no doubt that hospitality and retail has been hit hardest by the steady decline of immigrants from mainland Europe due to the Brexit vote back in 2016.  However, the sector is learning to adapt and overcome, because by changing nothing, nothing changes.

All business will be affected in some way or other by skills shortages either now or in the not too distant future. One end of the hourglass is no different to the other.  If we look towards changing the ways we harness new and raw talent and then take steps to retain the talent we have coveted, then the effects are lessened by default.

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence, it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” —Peter Drucker