TRAP_Autumn 2021_Digital Edition - Page 5

ing out for good staff

Unemployment is still at historical lows and most economists don ’ t think it can get any lower . A far more pressing issue is the labour and skills shortage and the government appears to be absolutely clueless about how to deal with it .

From lorry drivers to servers and chefs in hospitality , real damage is being done to the economy and it will get worse . There are already chronic shortages in many areas and , as we go into the Christmas rush , it will get worse , much worse . There are some quick fixes if only the government would make them .
A relaxation of visa requirements for EU citizens would solve the problem very quickly , but is this Brexit-obsessed government listening ? Of course not . Even a short term visa system , say for one year , would help but it will not happen yet . The Daily Mail will not allow it ! Can ’ t have any more beastly Europeans here . They steal our jobs , the jobs that we , ourselves do not want to do .
I heard a government minister saying on TV the other day that employers should pay more . And , certainly a positive side of this mess is that many currently low paid people in retail and hospitality should see their wages rise — which of course is a good thing . But if there are not enough people to do these jobs , and there aren ’ t , that is not going to solve the problem . The end result will be higher inflation ( 3.2 % in August ), which will mean higher prices and , worse still , higher interest rates .
Your increase in pay will be swallowed up , and then some , just as fast as your wages . Inflation was the curse of the British economy in the ‘ 60s and ‘ 70s , which saw this country sink from the second richest country in the world ( per capita ) down to 18th . And it appears we have learned nothing from that experience .
“ Why can ’ t the unemployed do these jobs ?” scream newspapers which should know better . At face value that looks like a solution . However , this country has over 1 million vacancies at the present time . Very roughly there are 1.5m unemployed . Easy ! Only it isn ’ t . Of the 1.5m , at least 800,000 of them are short term unemployed . People now , especially the young , take time out between jobs , perhaps to find the right job or because they want some time off . Unless we are going to force them to take jobs , and not even the right wing press is advocating that , this can ’ t be solved .
As for the others , many are in the wrong place — literally and psychologically . Geography is a problem and people cannot just get on their bikes and move , as Norman Tebbit famously suggested in the ‘ 80s . When the Toyota factory closes in Swindon and skilled engineers and car workers are made redundant , they cannot be expected to up sticks , move to London and take a chef job . We are blessed with one of the most flexible labour markets in the world but even we can ’ t sort that .
Yes , there are a few hundreds or possibly thousands who just don ’ t want to work . That perhaps should be addressed at some point , but it is not going to solve this problem .
Boris , who even the Tory-supporting press say has a casual relationship with the truth , is going to have to answer some very difficult questions in the coming months . Why has his Brexit deal gone so terribly wrong ? He has been able to blame the pandemic up until now , but he cannot do that for much longer .
The reason it has gone so terribly wrong is because it was bad deal , badly negotiated and badly implemented . The Conservatives ’ blue wall in the south has been badly dented and the so-called red wall in the north is looking shaky . There is nothing like shortages in the shops to panic the public . All of us in the retail industry know this is coming . It seems that no one in Westminster has any idea .
It should be an interesting winter .

“ Why can ’ t the unemployed do these jobs ?” scream newspapers which should know better .

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