4 perspectives on the UK’s recruitment challenge

The latest Brighton Chamber Big Debate: Where have all the people gone, is chaired by Richard Freeman and looks at the labour market and the pressure of finding the right people.

Richard caught up with the four panellists ahead of the event for a preview for their take on where all the people have gone. Their thoughts have been written up in a Brighton Chamber blog by Hannah Jackson. We include a few snippets here with kind permission.

Lucy Smith, Vicky Haines, Nye Comminetti and Eric Kihlstrom cover a breadth of sectors and industries, from Brighton business to a national perspective. Collectively, they work with people just starting out in their careers, those in the older generation of the workforce, or in industries that have always struggled to find talent – plus the people that pore over the numbers behind the statistics.

Lucy Smith, Founder of Digital Grads 

What’s the experience of the graduates you’ve been supporting, around the narrative that Gen Z have a wealth of choice around jobs? How close to reality is that?

I don’t think that’s the reality – there are a lot of graduates desperately seeking work. The statistics behind the headlines come from somewhere, but they don’t seem to be true. My understanding of things like the ‘Great Resignation’ is that it’s over 50s leaving the workforce. Not everybody in the country is deciding to quit their job.

Eric Kilhstrom, UK Ambassador for Aging2.0

At the Big Debate, we’ll be lifting the bonnet on the labour market. You feel this tight labour market is artificial – what do you think has gone wrong, and what are we not really talking about here?

The answer to the question ‘Where are all the people’ is they’re hiding right in front of you. Without agism we would have a lot more people in the labour market. So many people have dropped out of the labour market as a result of agism, that we have an artificially low unemployment rate that doesn’t reflect the people that want to be economically active.

Vicky Haines, MD Kingsway Care

The health and social care sector has perennial challenges, Covid and Brexit aside. What’s the challenge you’ve been facing?

There’s a lack of people coming into the care sector. The demand for care is growing quite intensively, but people aren’t choosing to come into care, because there’s a narrative that the care industry is unskilled – a stopgap, not a career.

Nye Comminetti, Senior Economist Resolution Foundation

From a policy level, what are some of the ways the government might be able to ease some of this?

At a government level, the way to encourage people into work is not to make life harder for people on benefits – there’s no good evidence that reducing benefits will encourage people back into work.

We already have low rates of basic benefits. I would challenge anyone to spend a week living on that type of money. I don’t think that’s the solution.

Instead, I would think about health. The big reason for many people leaving the workplace has been long-term ill health. There are 2.5 million people of working age who can’t work because they have a long term illness – and that’s related to very large NHS waiting lists.

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Brighton Big Debate

Wednesday 16th November | 5:15 – 7:45pm
Brighton Girls

Panellists include:

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Sponsored by Hartley Fowler
In partnership with Silicon Brighton

More to explore

News. West Sussex launches digital skills campaign
Blog. Employment support for the over 50s?
Catch-up Ageing Well Changing the Conversation - Challenging Ageism - valuing older workers

always possible has a clutch of gifted event chairs and hosts – who know how to create the right mood without dominating the conversation.