Staff shortages, rising salaries and worries over inflation continue to dominate the economic landscape limiting the region’s growth potential.
Having said that, when compared with other parts of the UK, Yorkshire as a region is performing robustly from an economic perspective with only London recording quicker growth throughout December last year.
Data from a recent report by the Croner Group indicated that pay rises will be an ongoing consideration throughout this year. Staff shortages coupled with what people are now calling the “Great Resignation” as people re-evaluate their careers post lock-down, are the main factors for the spike in salaries.
Just recently, the Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey suggested that workers should not ask for pay rises in an attempt to stop prices rising out of control. We see in particular industries with candidate shortages that companies are prepared to offer substantially higher salaries which is unsustainable in the long term as we try to deal with the ongoing rising inflation figures.
In the last year sectors such as IT, construction, retail, hospitality, customer service and social care have seen an increases anywhere from 7-21% in salaries as businesses and organisations are forced to pay more to keep their talented staff.
Local prominent figures have expressed concerns regarding the shortage. Martin Hathaway, managing director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce Commented: “The ongoing skills shortages and recruitment struggles must be addressed. The desire to recruit is there, but firms are struggling to find suitable applicants for the positions.
“Further support is needed to help get people into the right jobs and to make training and development opportunities more accessible for those across the mid Yorkshire region.”
Demand and outlook
In December, demand for goods and services provided by businesses in Yorkshire continued to rise at a rate faster than all other region’s in the UK apart from London, which is promising news. Factors to lift activity included investment plans and new product development plans.
The number of outstanding vacancies across the UK rose to a record 1.2 million in December 2021 and until new data is released, we can only assume the trend will continue.
It is clear businesses are trying to recruit with employment levels across Yorkshire continuing to rise at record pace in particular for service providers with manufacturing workforce numbers growing at a slower rate. We understand greater workloads were a key factor in businesses decision to hire new staff.
Manufacturers are taking the brunt of the cost inflation when compared with service companies as we see the second highest reading in almost 25 years of data collection. An increase in raw materials, shipping fees, fuel costs and wage pressures have contributed to the inflation.
In an attempt to offset the cost increases – the prices charged by service companies and manufactures based in Yorkshire have risen considerably as some look to share the burden with customers.
The labour shortage situation is becoming increasingly concerning – it is all well and good for the government to put forward upskilling as a solution but it will not solve the immediate problem. Upskilling will take time to come to fruition so we must tackle what happens in the next five years. Advances in automation and AI could be promising solutions but are not on the immediate practical horizon.
When looking at inflation it is evident from our point of view that increasing people’s pay is not the simple solution it appears to be as this could fuel price increases and damage the economy continually pushing the cost of living higher.
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