Britain faces a shortage of seasonal workers this Christmas, as job-hunters shun temporary work amid a ‘glut’ of roles, fresh research claims.
According to jobs website Indeed, as of 1 October, the proportion of job searches being made for seasonal roles was down 27 per cent compared to the same time in 2019, and 33 per cent below its 2018 level.
‘With retailers and logistics firms already warning that supply shortages could lead to empty shelves this Christmas, our analysis reveals just what employers who rely on seasonal staff are up against’, Jack Kennedy, UK economist at Indeed, said.
The ‘dearth’ of applicants comes as jobseekers remain ‘spoilt for choice’, with the country having a record 1.2million vacancies in the three months to October, according to Indeed.
Going down: The number of UK-based workers searching for seasonal jobs has dropped
Many employers are particularly desperate to fill food server and sales assistant roles. In-person roles comprise around 45 per cent of seasonal vacancies at present, Indeed said.
Retail and sales workers may be among the most in-demand workers for seasonal roles, but seasonal drivers and warehouse staff are also highly sought after as swathes of consumers continue to shop online.
Speaking to This is Money, a spokesperson for Indeed said most seasonal jobs on offer had salaries of between £10 to £20 an hour. But, one job for a Santa Claus actor is willing pay the successful applicant £100 an hour.
Jobseeker interest in Christmas job is now only around 11 per cent higher than it was in October 2020, when the second wave of coronavirus was in full swing. ‘Last year’s figure was kept exceptionally low by a second wave of the pandemic that forced the closure of much of the economy.’
Amazon is looking to hire 20,000 seasonal workers this Christmas, with prospective staff encouraged to take live virtual tours to see what it is like to work behind the scenes at the online retail giant.
Pay for Operations roles starts at a minimum of £10.00 per hour, rising to £11.10 an hour in some parts of the UK for all full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal roles in Amazon’s fulfilment centres, sort centres and delivery stations, the group said.
An Amazon spokesperson said: ‘We prepare year-round for the festive season and our seasonal associates play an integral role in helping us deliver an exceptional experience for our customers.’
Hiring spree: Amazon is looking to fill 20,000 seasonal jobs across the UK this Christmas
In demand now: A chart from Indeed showing how demand for in-person seasonal roles has shifted
Shortages symptomatic of broader problems
Many experts believe the surge in employer demand for seasonal workers will heighten existing staff shortages being experienced in a number of sectors.
Taking just one example, the global shortage of HGV drivers is now forcing shipping giants to divert away from Felixstowe port, meaning more shortages in UK shops.
Indeed’s Mr Kennedy, said: ‘In some ways the labour market has become a victim of its own success.’
He added: ‘Jobseekers are currently spoilt for choice, and our real-time data shows they are less interested than usual in seasonal Christmas jobs.
Lauren Barnett is the founder of Home Hospitality
‘With candidate searches for Christmas jobs still down roughly a third on where they were at this point in 2018 and 2019, the supply of people is simply not keeping up with employer demand.
‘Labour shortages are being felt across the economy, both by employers looking for permanent recruits as well as those who want temporary staff.
‘There is still time for things to improve, but as we approach the peak Christmas hiring season, the squeeze is particularly painful in the parts of the retail sector that depend on Christmas for the bulk of their sales.
‘For them the risk of empty staff rooms is just as severe as the risk of empty shelves.’
Speaking to This is Money, Lauren Barnett, founder of Home Hospitality said staff shortages in businesses like restaurants, cafes and hotels would be ‘exacerbated’ over the Christmas period.
She added: ‘Restaurants are currently frantically trying to set themselves apart from the competition in terms of recruitment, with whitty job posts on Instagram, referral fees to their staff to recommend their friends, a huge number of new perks and benefits, along with many other measures.
‘But they are all fighting for the same group of people. Those few that are currently job hunting in our network are all asking what the Christmas and New Year opening hours are, because they want to know they won’t have to work at all over that time ideally.’
Kate Nicholls is the chief executive of UKHospitality
‘The restaurants who are closing fully over that period are shouting it from the rooftops and therefore doing better than most with recruitment.’
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, told This is Money: ‘Hospitality businesses are being battered by a perfect – but growing – storm of labour shortages, disruption to supply and escalating food and utility costs.
‘Even more than usual, this Christmas will be a crucial trading period for pubs, bars, restaurants and other venues, struggling along the road to recovery after 18 months of Covid.’
Ms Nicholls added: ‘We desperately want homegrown talent to fill vacant roles but that won’t happen overnight.
‘We are working with the Government on how to achieve this ambition, via promoting careers and upskilling the domestic workforces. Committing to a long-term VAT rate of 12.5% for the hospitality sector will help safeguard the recovery and enable businesses to grow and invest more in their workforce.’
A spokesperson for ManpowerGroup told This is Money: ‘When we compare our applicants to pre-pandemic (2019) figures we’ve not seen a drop in workers, but an increase in job openings.
‘Demand is high across the logistics & distribution sector with the growth of online shopping and changes in preferences from consumers.
‘This sector isn’t unlike others in the UK, 77% of all employers are facing talent shortages, however the crunch point with logistics is timing ahead of the holiday period. With increased demand for seasonal workers, employers need to be looking to new talent pools to plug the gaps.’
Job vacancies hit another record high of 1.2million last month as post-pandemic labour shortages drove up wages and fuelled inflation fears.
The number of posts available spiked again despite unemployment still being well above the level before Covid struck – although it was down 0.4 percentage points in the quarter to August.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.