How do you fill the skills gap as a new or established business? Recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics (see references) show that the UK’s unemployment rate rose from 3.8% to 3.9% in the three months to March 2023. The number of people on PAYE payrolls also dropped by 136,000 during the same period, suggesting that the current strain felt by employers isn’t subsiding any time soon.
Take a Multifaceted Approach to Employment Issues
These statistics clearly have an impact on current and prospective employers. Indeed, the allure of Plumpton Rocks (see references) might bring people who want to spend money to Harrogate. However, if your business doesn’t have enough staff to serve these customers, it’s not going to succeed. Therefore, as a local business owner or someone looking to start a business in Harrogate, you need ways to address the latest economic conditions.
Grants can help cover costs of things such as recruiting new staff, overtime and expenses. However, if your business is going to succeed in the long term, you need a sustainable way to meet staffing needs. Government initiatives can help address staff shortages. For example, the national Kickstart scheme in 2021. Over 100 companies in North Yorkshire signed up for the scheme which offers various incentives to 16–24-year-olds, including a minimum wage and National Insurance contributions.
One strategy that many business owners tend to overlook, partly due to a lack of knowledge, is overseas workers. Recruiting skilled workers from abroad does involve some red tape. However, with the help of lawyers who specialise in this field, skilled worker visas can be an effective way to recruit staff. As explained by the immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards, the Skilled Worker visa program replaced the Tier 2 system in 2020. The new system lowered the skill level requirement from RQF Level 6 to RQF Level 3 (equivalent to UK A-levels).
Easier Access but Applications Remain Tricky
The Skilled Worker visa program also reduced the minimum salary requirement from £30,000 to £26,200 and removed the cap on the number of visas that can be awarded each year. By all measures, the new system is less restrictive than Tier 2. This means it’s easier for employers to recruit skilled workers from overseas. However, while the entry requirements have become less strict, the recruitment process for employers and workers is still littered with potential pitfalls.
For example, employers need to understand what “skilled” means in the context of the visa program. Then there are various background checks required on both sides, as well as regular reporting requirements. Therefore, if searching for skilled workers from overseas is going to be your strategy, it’s almost essential to do so with the help of experts. The key to running a successful business is knowing which things you can control and which things you should outsource.
Employers will often rely on agencies to meet their recruitment needs on a local level, so it makes sense to lean on the expertise of immigration lawyers when you’re scouring international markets. The UK’s economic situation is far from optimal right now. Even though the worst appears to be behind us, there’s a long way to go before the jobs market is thriving again. Then, even if the economy is thriving, there will always be a need for overseas workers. Therefore, as a local business owner, it pays to think outside of the box and look to foreign markets for skilled workers.
Office for National Statistics unemployment rates data:
Plumpton Rocks Re-Opens for 2023: https://www.harrogate-news.co.uk/2023/03/31/plumpton-rocks-re-opens-for-the-2023-season/