Demand for UK warehouse workers has risen by over 40% since 2019, data shows

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Recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that demand for warehouse staff in the UK rose by 43.2% at the end of 2022 when compared with pre-pandemic levels.

December 2022 saw over 1,000 more job adverts for warehousing jobs in the UK than in the same month of 2019. The data was collected using an AI system that scraped the internet for online job advertisements and categorised them by region and sector, amongst other factors.

The area that saw by far the biggest increase in job adverts for staff in the ‘procurement and warehouse management’ category was the North East, where demand nearly doubled. Adverts in the region soared from 530 in December 2019 to 1,050 in December 2022 – an increase of 98.1%. Scotland also saw a significant increase, with 60.2% more adverts in 2022 than in 2019. Meanwhile, demand grew by 43.8% in Wales and 33.3% in Northern Ireland.

In response to this data, Indeed Flex – the sister site of recruitment platform Indeed focused on flexible and temporary work – conducted a survey which revealed that 58% of businesses will be turning to temporary workers to support their teams of permanent staff in 2023. It also found that 28% of HR professionals surveyed whose companies already hire temporary workers expect to make increased use of temps this year.

Novo Constare, co-founder and Chief Executive of Indeed Flex, said: “The logistics industry is not alone in its struggle to fill positions – it’s a problem facing most sectors right now.

“During the pandemic, warehouse staff were classified as essential workers and many turned to the sector to see them through furlough or support them after a job loss.

“But as life returned to normal and people went back to their previous jobs, warehouses across the country experienced a mass exodus of staff and a lot of companies haven’t recovered since.

“On top of rising costs and stretched budgets, it’s a difficult position for companies to be in. Many hiring managers have come to see temporary staff as a vital resource for them.”

Staff shortages have been a serious issue for the logistics industry as a whole for several years and problems hiring and retaining warehouse workers are a large part of this.

A survey by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) in June 2022 revealed that 86% of companies surveyed had experienced shortages in warehouse operatives in the two years prior. This figure was even higher than the percentage of organisations that had experienced driver shortages in the same timeframe (60%).

Hiring temporary staff may well help businesses tackle this issue in the short term but if these problems persist, companies will need to invest in long-term solutions to better recruit and retain vital warehouse staff.

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