“Those working in the sectors which are facing shortages now were applauded as essential workers a year ago.”
If you’re a “key worker”, now is the perfect storm.
HIGH RENT, LOW WAGES
In low-wage economy South West, it is now almost impossible to find somewhere to live, as reported in today’s Devon Live:
And these are key workers who are being directly affected:
This ‘crisis’ has been worsening over the summer:
And it’s a crisis made worse by a low-wage economy:
Seasonal workers find that their one, two or three casual jobs can dry up after summer. Sands shift quickly in a “gig” economy, so workers must budget enough money to last them through the low season.
Young people are often hardest hit. Dolly Laity is from St Ives, though she now studies at a university in London. The 19-year-old is affable and approachable, perhaps due to years spent in customer service roles. “I’ve worked in cleaning, I’ve worked in restaurants, I’ve worked in cafés. I’ve worked locally and in places further out like St Erth,” she says. “But in the winter, you can’t work. There’s no work. You’ve just got to hope that you make enough over the summer to last through the winter.”
“The job opportunities here aren’t spectacular if you don’t want to work in a restaurant or a boat. On the one hand, this business survives off tourism, so tourists are paying my bills. But on the other hand, you get houses down here that are going for millions and no one can afford to buy a house. The rent down here is the same as London in a lot of cases. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford a house down here until I’ve got money.”
HIGH DEMAND, NO WORKERS
And now in the latest area of labour shortage, there’s talk of enticing people into these ‘key jobs’ – but it’s not going to happen:
Over the months, it has proved very difficult to attract workers into these ‘key industries’:
All of this has built up to such a state that we might be seeing ‘Christmas cancelled’:
But it’s also in the service industries where shortages of labour are being felt:
ESSENTIAL WORKERS, FAIR WAGE
A comment in the Devon media over the weekend suggests better pay and conditions for ‘key workers’:
Currently in the UK there are vacancies for over 100’000 HGV drivers, along with a national shortage of over 120’000 car workers, 80’000 nursing vacancies and 30’000 openings for primary and nursery education professionals… Shortages in other areas are also caused by workers leaving due to poor pay and conditions.
For example, 150 bus drivers have left Stagecoach in Devon, over low pay and conditions. Employers are using Brexit and the pandemic as an excuse to attack workers pay and conditions.
Those working in the sectors which are facing shortages now were applauded as essential workers a year ago.
The shortage of workers has been made worse by the pandemic and Brexit, but the real cause is years of not paying workers a fair wage. Companies struggling to recruit are able to find the extra money to pay workers when they are desperate, with some even offering bonuses.