UK worker shortfall 'to exceed 2.6 million people by 2030'
18 Jan 2022
A combination of population ageing, COVID-19 and Brexit could see a shortfall of 2.6 million workers in the United Kingdom by 2030, suggests new research.
The Plugging the gapreport published by the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC) projects that the missing numbers will amount to almost twice the size of the workforce of the entire National Health Service.
It warns that recent labour shortages are harbingers of worse to come, with shortfalls expected across a range of sectors over the coming years, including in process related areas such as manufacturing,transport, storage and professional /scientific.
While recent events, notably Brexit and the pandemic have influenced trends, much of the problem comes down to a more longstanding demographic trend: a greater number of older workers set to retire over the next decade and fewer younger workers joining the labour force.
In addition to retirees, a large number of workers fall out of the workforce long before reaching state pension age, with poor health or caring responsibilities among the barriers to re-employment. Even those among them who remain economically active will tend to work reduced hours, says the report.
“Population ageing, the pandemic and Brexit have come together to form the perfect storm. If we continue with business-as-usual, we are going to see huge shortfalls hitting all sectors of the economy,” warned report author professor Les Mayhew, Head of Global Research at ILC and Professor of Statistics at Bayes Business School.
He added: “The Government has formulated a set of strong policy priorities to develop infrastructure, health and care over the coming years which will place huge demands on the economy. But if we fail to address the workforce challenge, we simply won’t have enough people for the jobs.”
The ILC said Government needs a comprehensive Workforce Strategy across the whole economy warned Mayhew.
“This means supporting healthy workplaces, supporting carers and creating flexible conditions that suit people’s needs. We need to remove barriers to people returning to work – be that following time out caring, dealing with a health need or taking parental leave. And we need to consider the role of migration and automation in addressing labour market gaps.”
“People living and working longer is a good thing and it needn’t be a disaster for the economy – quite the opposite. But if we don’t act fast to respond to the new normal of longer working lives, we will pay the price across every single industry.”