The number of jobs vacancies in Peterborough has reached 1,000 - sparking concerns that staff shortages might leave some employers struggling to cope.
The figure comes from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) where officials say that staffing gaps are opening up in most companies and across all sectors.
The shortfall in the labour market has prompted fears of a slowdown in the growth of the city’s wealth-producing economy.
Currently employers from fresh food suppliers, care at home providers, the health service, security firms and even Peterborough prison are looking to fill vacancies.
Shaun Sadler, District Operational Leader for the DWP in East Anglia, said the 1,000 vacancies on Find a Job had been at roughly the same level since April.
He said: “What we have seen are vacancies filling quickly and then more coming on so we continue to see a real churn.”
Now a series of jobs fairs at the DWP office in Northminster with a variety of companies and job seekers are being held.
Mr Sadler said: “We are recruiting ‘on the spot’ for key industries.
“With summer fast approaching and a record level of vacancies, employers are turning to their local jobcentre for expert help matching jobseekers with their seasonal and permanent vacancies.
He said: “Right now it’s our top priority to work with employers and jobseeker to match the right job with the right person.
“Hosting jobs fairs in our offices, has enabled a growing number of businesses to offer jobseekers ‘jobs on the spot’ especially in the key industries.
“And by organising regular jobs fairs, a growing number of jobseekers have been offered jobs on the spot.
He added: “Jobcentres in Cambridgeshire are welcoming record levels of employers in to their offices to help fill their vacancies.
"We have listened to both employers and customers around the frustration they have by how long it can take from start to completion of applying for a job.
"We have helped employers reduce the time spent on this process, helping sift applications, supporting in the completion of short lists of potential candidates and provide an environment where they can interview customers in our offices.
"This has proved to be a highly successful model that we will continue to deploy.”
Why are we seeing so many vacancies?
There are a number of reasons contributing to the high level of jobs vacancies.
Mr Sadler said: “Some of these are due to seasonal recruitment in particular in hospitality, leisure and agricultural.
"Some are because businesses feel more confident that there will not be another lockdown making their employment secure and are growing their businesses.
"There is of course natural churn in the labour market where people leave what they did as a temporary measure during the pandemic and go back in to their original sectors.”
New figures for the East of England show that the number of people currently employed is at 3.104 million - up 32,000 on the year – an employment rate of 77.8 per cent compared to the UK average of 75.6 per cent.
The number of people unemployed is at 118,000 - down 7,000 on the year. The unemployment rate is at 3.7 per cent, lower than the UK average of 3.8 per cent.
How do business lobby groups see the problem?
The British Chamber of Commerce’s head of people policy Jane Gratton, said: “With a new record set for the number of vacancies, and no easy way to fill them for many companies, labour shortages are likely to continue to damage the UK’s growth prospects.
“Despite recruitment difficulties, the damage to firms’ finances from soaring inflation and rising national insurance will limit the extent to which wages can continue rising.
“We need to find ways to bring people back into the UK labour market. Flexible working practices, rapid re-training opportunities and a focus on workplace health can support many economically inactive people to return to the workplace.”
“But for some roles, where there is clear evidence of a national shortage of skills and labour, firms need access to people, at all skill levels, from outside the UK. As well as issuing temporary and seasonal visas, the UK government needs to urgently review the Shortage Occupation List.”
Where are these vacancies?
In Peterborough at the moment there are vacancies for 100 staff at Peterborough AM Fresh, at Peterborough Gateway, with roles including Quality Control, Hygiene inspection, Print rooms, machine operation and line leaders. Peterborough Reflex Security is looking for 10 plus staff and has a contract to steward the Peterborough United home football matches at the stadium on London Road and several festivals in the coming weeks. Peterborough Alpha Autism Care is looking for eight support workers and positive behaviour workers. Peterborough Amberon is recruiting for 11 traffic management operatives.
There are also a number of jobs fair being held at the DWP’s offices in Northminster, Peterborough.
Today (June 16) : Peterborough Recruitment Fair supporting health and social care June 23: Peterborough Recruitment Fair Way to Work. June 30 : Summer general recruitment fair. Also, HMP Peterborough is holding a recruitment event on June 25 from 10am to 2pm.
An HMP Peterborough spokesperson said: “Come along and find out about the range of careers on offer.
"From prison officers to electricians, tutors to administrators, nursing staff to plumbers there are many opportunities to build and develop your career.”
For more information:
To see the vacancies on offer visit the DWP’s website.