Dorset LEP report reflects on a summer of labour shortages and the end of furlough

Dorset LEP report reflects on a summer of labour shortages and the end of furlough
Dorset LEP report reflects on a summer of labour shortages and the end of furlough

The latest Dorset LEP Labour Market Insight report focuses on unravelling the recent labour shortage trends and the possible effects from the furlough scheme closure in Dorset.

Swtiching the entire economy on over the summer created a unique spike in labour demand with an unexpected peak in vacancies and employment indicators holding up well.

As businesses were struggling to fill their increased demand from the same talent pool, the narrative has changed from a peak in unemployment, feared at the start of the pandemic to now widely reported labour shortages and a job seekers market.

As ONS reported 1.1 million vacancies, the highest on record, Dorset followed the trend with a spike in demand in the third quarter.

Job vacancies in Dorset reached highs not seen since 2013 with 22,804 vacancies – a 35% increase on pre-pandemic level (January to March 2020), over 60% up on same period last year and 40% up on 2019.

Over the year ending in June 2021 compared to a year earlier (July 19 - June 20):

  • Employment rate in Dorset fell to 77% (74.3% nationally) - 1.2 percentage points down (1.5 nationally) – with an estimated 6,500 fewer people in employment, but marked a small 0.2 percentage points increase on the previous quarter.
  • Unemployment rate was 4.3% (5.1% nationally), marking a 1.4 percentage points increase (1.1 nationally) and representing 5,000 more unemployed people in Dorset also marked a small 0.1 percentage points decline on the quarter.

Over the quarter both job posting intensity and duration were elevated and scored above average among the most in demand jobs in Dorset.

  • Software Developers/ Engineers topped the posting intensity chart with 14 postings per job, followed by Nurses where the posting intensity was 10:1.  
  • Posting duration for Care workers was highest, reaching 46 days, followed closely by Nurses and Project Managers where it was 44 and 42 days respectfully.

Return to work accelerated with out-of-work benefit claimants seeing a month-on-month drop from a peak back in March. There were 7,535 fewer claimants and 1,805 less young people on unemployment support at the end of September, marking a 30% overall decline and a more pronounced 40% decline in youth unemployment since March.

Rebecca Davies, Head of Enterprise, Skills and Industry at Dorset LEP said: “In the aftermath of a pandemic that displaced thousands of jobs and forced millions into furlough leave, a labour market with growing availability of jobs and relatively stable employment levels is welcome news.

“Yet businesses competing over a small talent pool are finding it increasingly difficult to hire new staff, as a lack of applicants is creating resource gaps and impacting business recovery. In Dorset this spike in demand adds to a well-documented pre-Covid labour shortage issue that placed Dorset LEP in the top three areas nationally for employer reported hard-to-fill and skills shortage vacancies.

“Higher posting intensity illustrates recruiters are working harder to reach applicants, but higher posting duration shows there are fewer applicants which drives the duration of postings up.

“Our latest labour market analysis unravels the complex puzzle of contributing factors, including pandemic and EU-exit developments, accelerating existing trends and discusses how furlough and out-of-work benefits relate to shortages and how much these have to do with job quality. Working in partnership, the report explores how we create a skills ecosystem approach looking at both supply and demand, focusing on training and investment in technology, research and innovation to address skills shortages in the future.”

The report features top tips from Helen Stacey – a recruitment expert from local agency Aspire Jobs with over 30 years of experience in the business.

Recruiters can also tap into support from Dorset LEP’s  Back to Business initiative helping businesses with their growth plans and offering solutions to common business challenges, including staff recruitment and training, and dedicated Skills Brokerage advice.

Read full report or key highlights and explore Dorset LEP’s latest interactive dashboards in the Quarter 3 Labour Market Insights page.


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