Skills shortage could impact Christmas shopping season

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation has added fuel to the fire when it comes to fears that the UK skills shortage is going to ruin everyone’s Christmas.

The run-up to the festive season is one of the busiest times for businesses not just in the UK but across the globe. Everyone ends up working like a dog to meet demand, especially in the retail sector, but just about every firm is busier than a one-legged man in an arse-kicking competition at this time of year. However, the REC says that based on its most recent research there could very well be a decided lack of available staff to keep up with Christmas demand.

Firms love to hire on temporary and contract workers at this time of year, especially since it’s just not cost-effective to add permanent employees for a few months only to make them redundant once January rolls around. The problem this year is that there’s a decided lack of skilled and qualified temporary workers to meet demand; the REC said that 21 per cent of firms with internal recruiting felt there was a definite shortage. Meanwhile, 23 per cent of firms that hire through agencies or umbrella companies reported the same thing.

This could be completely disastrous for capacity this shopping season, as companies that can’t keep up with the heightened demand in the run-up to Christmas aren’t going to be able to supply enough products or services to satisfy the demands of consumers – or the demand of other firms that need to supply secondary services to businesses that deal with consumers directly. I don’t know what’s going to happen this season, as there are only so many freelance personnel to go around and the best and the brightest are likely to have already been snapped up by firms. This leaves the dregs circling the bottom of the barrel when it comes to workers with the skills and experience these companies so desperately need this time of year.

There’s a few things that could happen, I suppose. One would be that firms make do with these under-qualified workers and try to push out as much productivity as they can, or these same firms will founder and end up having a poor Christmas season altogether. Neither option is completely fantastic, but if it’s a choice between under-performance and no performance I know what I would choose!

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