Despite an overall drop in the use of temporary agency workers during September, the social care, logistics and manufacturing sectors are being hard hit by the coalition government’s temporary cap on skilled labour from outside Europe.
According to a study undertaken by consultancy de Poel, which helps employers optimise their relationships with recruitment agencies, just under four out of five agencies has seen the use of migrant workers decline by up to 25%, with 21% finding it more difficult to find the right skills as a result.
But some 30% indicated that the social care sector had been most affected by the cap, which was introduced in June 2010 and is expected to reduce the number of non-European skilled personnel in the UK labour market by 1,300 by April 2011. The government is still considering whether to make the ceiling permanent.
Next on the list of those suffering skills shortages, however, was logistics (22%), followed by manufacturing (21%) and construction (16%).
Matthew Sanders, de Poel’s chief executive, said: “The government’s temporary cap on non-EU skilled migrants is very concerning for the future of our workforce and the quality of our staff.”
While the cap was not affecting the quality of the UK’s workforce across the board, skills shortages were hitting particular industries hard, with many agencies reporting “hundreds of vacancies for qualified social care workers as such sectors rely heavily on skilled migrants to make up a large proportion of their workforce”, he added.
The study also indicated that the use of temporary labour had dropped last month reinforcing fears of a possible downturn in the jobs market. The number of hours worked by such employees also fell by 13% compared with August as companies cut staff due to fears of a double dip recession and the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
As a result, Sanders warned: “The government needs to redesign the migration system so that it prevents migrants from undercutting British job seekers but it doesn’t harm economic recovery. Recruitment agencies also need to be cautious and prepare for possible tough times ahead.”