Why is the Recruitment Market so Tough at the Moment?


It feels like this has been a question on all our minds for a long time now. If you search the question on Google, you’ll see articles asking the same thing for well over a year. 

The British Chambers of Commerce ran a survey that showed that a massive 78 per cent of UK firms had had trouble recruiting staff in the first quarter. The top industries facing the worst challenges were the construction sector, with 83% reporting difficulties, followed by production and manufacturing on 79%, logistics on 79% and hospitality on 78%.

In April 2022, the Office for National Statistics reported that the number of job vacancies rose to 1,295,000, the highest it’s ever been. 

The results of a PwC survey, published in May 2022, showed that the issue is not going away any time soon, with a fifth of workers “extremely likely” to resign in the next 12 months with a further third “slightly likely”.

The Conversation reported that the labour force is shrinking, dropping by 1.6% or 561,000 between the first quarters (Jan-March) of 2020 and 2022. They state that this is mostly due to rises in long-term sickness (139,000) and early retirement (70,000). 

Research done by the CIPD states that the recession is a strong root cause and that “high rates of exit from the labour market, particularly for older workers” is usual in a recession. They also state that sickness and ill-health have caused an increase in employment inactivity. 

It’s widely reported that people want greater flexibility and that more people want the ability to work from home or have other flexible working practices. The survey by PwC found that hybrid working was top of the requirement for future working; the survey showed that 62% of respondents wanted a mix of in-office and remote working. 

Brexit is often quoted as a cause of a reduction in the labour market, particularly in construction and health &social care. The Big Brexit report compiled by Resolution Foundation and the London School of Economics (LSE) showed that “0.5 per cent of the workforce, equivalent to an extra 132,000 people, will move from their current region-sector as a result of Brexit.” In addition, Brexit has added to the workload of recruiters due to increased right-to-work checks and proof of identity requirements.


The British Chamber of Commerce has called on the Government to reform the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), which will help sectors with severe skills shortages. 

The CIPD suggest that employers need to provide reasonable adjustments for those with a disability or long-term health condition. They could also assist with providing early access to occupational health services.

Implement remote working and be more flexible where possible. New research from CareerBuilder found that jobs advertising flexible working attracted seven times more applications than office-based vacancies. 

They also found that including a salary range on your job posting will get you up to 13 times more applicants.

Look for new ways of accessing talent pools by investing more in training their workforce and expanding the use of apprenticeships. The British Chamber of Commerce is asking the Government to help employers invest in training by reducing the upfront costs to business and providing training-related tax breaks. 

Keep an eye out for a blog coming soon on the benefits and perks you can offer applicants and employees, and give us a call if you need any help with your recruitment.