South Holland firms need 1,000 workers as vacancies hit critical level
About a thousand jobs are up for grabs across South Holland as the district’s firms struggle to find workers to fill their posts.
Nationally, the number of vacancies reached record highs this week – and the situation here is seen as ‘critical’, with a severe lack of people to meet demand.
At time of press there were 274 posts available on the Government’s ‘Find a Job’ website for Spalding and the surrounding areas. However, hundreds more vacancies are being advertised through agencies, online ads, social media, shop windows and word of mouth.
Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Beardsley said: “In south Lincolnshire, labour is at a critical point and has been for some time.
“With shortages across the supply chains, farms, packhouses as well as logistics businesses, more needs to be done.
“Businesses can’t continue to have lorries sat in yards because they don’t have the drivers to fulfil the workload, so a more flexible immigration system is needed to ensure that organisations get access to the workers they need, as well as investment in training.”
The Spalding Guardian understands that some firms are even having to turn down orders as they don’t have the manpower to fulfill them.
Mr Beardsley said that changes to Covid rules – which mean fewer workers will need to isolate – will help firms in the short term, but added: “Although the changes to self-isolation rules will help, with many organisations in South Holland facing a more deep-rooted squeeze on labour supply from the impact of Covid and Brexit, staff shortages may persistently weigh on economic activity.”
One business with a large number of vacancies is Flamingo – with 30 posts open at its site in Kellett Gate in Low Fulney and 145 jobs available at Stonegate in Weston – a site which expanded last year.
The range of roles include cleaners, fork lift drivers, production planners and quality controllers.
Food manufacturing firm Bakkavor is in the midst of a 500-job push across south Lincolnshire, haulage firms such as Gist are engaged in a pay war to attract new drivers and David Wood Foods is looking for staff as it takes on the former Spalding Bakery site in Fulney Lane.
Just under 2,500 people in South Holland are on unemployment benefits according to the latest figures.
The unemployment rate had reached 5.3% in February this year – the highest since January 1993 – with more than 1,000 people forced out of work within a month of the first pandemic lockdown being called in 2020.
Numbers have steadily fallen in the last six months, with about 500 fewer claimants since February.
Jobcentre Plus told the Spalding Guardian it is promoting the Kickstart scheme to try to get the area’s young people into work.
This gives six months of funding for 25 hours of weekly minimum wage payments as well as National Insurance and pension contributions for 16-24s who are on Universal Credit and at risk of long term unemployment.
In South Holland, fewer than 500 people in this age bracket are claiming out of work benefits.
Mr Beardsley wants Kickstart, which runs until the end of the year, to be extended and expanded.
He said: “Alongside rapid retraining and upskilling opportunities, government should also extend the Kickstart scheme into 2022 as well as expanding its current scope to include older workers, so they also have the opportunity to gain new skills and experience.”