The latest ONS figures show the number of job vacancies in June to August 2021 was 1,034,000, which is the first time vacancies have risen over 1 million since records began and is now 249,000 above its pre-pandemic January to March 2020 level.

The strength of the jobs market is without doubt a positive sign of the UK’s recovery following the coronavirus pandemic and unemployment continues to fall – currently at 4.6%. That said, we know that there are still 1 million people on furlough and whether these individuals will return to the workplace or face potential redundancy as the furlough scheme draws to an end this month remains to be seen.

Although it is certainly encouraging to see job vacancies at their highest number ever, the challenge of filling these roles is well documented and there is the very real possibility that the current labour shortage which is impacting all sectors will start to impede the UK’s economic recovery.

That said, there are several measures hiring organisations can take to address the current recruitment challenges:

  • Plan effectively – roles are taking longer to fill so ensuring you allow yourself the time to recruit is critical. Recruitment processes themselves also need to be speedy or companies risk losing candidates – so look again at how you will manage these, reduce unnecessary stages, and make sure those involved are available to meet with candidates quickly.
  • Focus on your employer brand – and promote it. It has never been more important to stand out from the crowd. Competition to attract staff has never been fiercer as the war for talent rages on. Reputation can be a critical key differentiator so do everything you can do to enhance not damage yours where your treatment of people is concerned. If you are strong in this area, be sure to publicise it.
  • Improve working conditions – listen to your employees, review feedback from exit interviews, learn from it and act upon it. It’s often easier to make small changes that have a big impact than to have to recruit to replace disgruntled employees.
  • Remove barriers to work – to attract wider demographics, for example: mothers returning to work, parents with childcare responsibility and carers.
  • Train & re-skill your team – look at your own workforce and how you can help them to develop the skills you need. Promote internal career mobility and improve retention while future proofing your business.

In addition to actions organisations can take, at Gi Group we also echo the comment made by the REC’s Neil Carberry that Government should allow some flexibility in the immigration system to help business navigate the current labour challenges, whilst also reviewing the apprenticeship levy and making it easier for organisations to train and upskill workers, and in particular younger demographics most adversely impacted by the pandemic into careers.

The number of vacancies offers a huge opportunity for those who may lose their jobs once the safety net of furlough is removed and may find themselves looking for work following a period of uncertainty – but to hiring companies it presents a real challenge.

Real effort must be taken by all parties to overcome the current labour shortages in this, the most competitive market in recent history, to ensure that economic recovery is not impeded.


About Gi Group

Gi Group is one of the world’s leading companies that provide the best services for the development of the labour market. Gi Group is active in the fields of temporary recruitment, permanent and professional staffing, search and selection, executive search, outsourcing, training, outplacement and HR consultancy. Thanks to our direct presence and strategic partnerships in the UK and in more than 57 countries across Europe, APAC, the Americas and Africa, we can guarantee efficiency and quick response.

We are able to assist all clients and candidates, and we have developed strong expertise in large and multinational organisations, for which we have implemented global solutions through specialist divisions and dedicated local and international teams. Gi group are ranked globally as one of the largest staffing firms by Staffing Industry Analysts, and we are also a global corporate member of the World Employment Confederation (formerly CIETT).

If you are currently looking to recruit or want to learn more about Gi Group’s Workforce Solutions, please email

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