UK faces out-of-pandemic-into-fire threat to labour supply
Energy and Utility Skills has warned the end of the Covid pandemic followed closely by the UK's full exit from the European Union next year could step up workforce challenges in the water sector.
In a recent report, the recruitment specialist said the introduction of new immigration rules and trading relationships on the UK’s exit from the European Union next year “is expected to impact even further on the available supply of lower and mid-level skills in the UK labour market.”
The warning came with Energy & Utility Skills’ launch of its second white paper in a two-part guide to workforce planning. It counsels that the most successful businesses emerging from the changes ahead will be those with “a clear exit strategy for the current crisis.”
Energy & Utility Skills claims the whitepaper, Six Easy Steps: A Pragmatic Approach to Workforce Planning, “demonstrates that effective workforce planning doesn’t have to be overly complicated, time-consuming, nor require sophisticated software.”
The skills organisation said the water sector and other utilities have, during the pandemic, “understandably moved to implement short-term survival actions,” including lay offs and furloughing. But it urges businesses to put together “a robust workforce plan to ensure a resilient and effective route back to business as usual beyond Covid-19, when the UK and global labour markets will look very different to those seen before the pandemic struck.”
Chief of supply chain association, British Water, Lila Thompson welcomed the Energy and Utility Skills report for its insight into "how businesses can ensure they have the right people in place at the right time to meet current and future challenges." Thompson was "pleased" that the report recommended that water sector players making scalebacks in their workforce "could utilise their suppliers for additional support."
Thompson went on to agree with the report's assertion that "virtual communication" established under social distancing arrangements may become embedded after lockdown is lifted, and, according to Thompson " fundamentally change future workforce needs."
She called on the water sector to recognise it may need to continue to invest beyond lockdown. in technology that enables remote working. “Technology that allows this transition should be embraced as we continue our journey to become an even more resilient and sustainable industry,” Thompson said.