Jobs market red hot as firms struggle to fill vacancies but workers are still avoiding the office


Hays has seen its income rocket since the easing of Covid restrictions, amid record demand for workers.

The London-listed recruiter said it was seeing ‘clear signs of skill shortages’ as businesses desperately tried to fill vacancies, with the fees raked in by the firm across all its regions up by double-digit percentages in the three months to September.

The UK and Ireland saw the strongest performance, with Hays’ fees climbing 44 per cent. Hays mostly recruits for accountancy, legal and banking firms and is good a bellwether for white collar activity.

Help wanted: London-listed recruiter Hays said it was seeing ‘clear signs of skill shortages’ as businesses desperately tried to fill vacancies

Help wanted: London-listed recruiter Hays said it was seeing ‘clear signs of skill shortages’ as businesses desperately tried to fill vacancies

But fresh data from the Centre for Cities, a think-tank, showed workers in London were still shunning the office.

Visits to London were 51 per cent lower in September than the pre-pandemic average as many commuters and office workers who make up the city’s hustle and bustle continue to stay away.

Even though employers in the capital may be allowing for more flexible work, they are still advertising for new staff. 

Hays said its fees from London were up 46 per cent, while fees from the Square Mile shot up 73 per cent – indicating strong demand in industries such as finance and law.

Alistair Cox, chief executive, said: ‘Twelve countries produced record net fees, including the USA and China, and our global Hays Technology business also hit record fees.

‘Client and candidate confidence is high and there are clear signs of skill shortages and wage inflation, particularly at higher salary levels.’

Businesses are having to offer higher salaries as a way to lure in workers, amid a dearth of staff with the right skills for in-demand roles such as lorry drivers or healthcare workers.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) thinks wages were between 4.1 per cent and 5.6 per cent higher in September than a year ago, even after ironing out statistical blips due to the Covid slump last year. 

And it said that a record 1.2m jobs were up for grabs last month.

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