Not enough people are training for high-skilled jobs and there is a shortage of people to fill the low-skilled roles
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It’s a job where you can start on £40,000 and earn £50,000 but more than two thirds of optometrist posts are vacant – including in Plymouth.
And the jobs, for primary health care specialists trained to examine the eyes to detect defects in vision, are not the only ones that employers are finding it hard to fill.
The shortage of staff is most acute in sectors that require highly skilled candidates, with Britain’s booming tech sector in particular struggling to find enough people with the right skills and experience – despite paying generous salaries.
New data from the world’s biggest job site Indeed has revealed the job hardest of all to fill is that of an optometrist, with 68.79% of optometrist vacancies posted on Indeed over the past year remaining unfilled for 60 days or more.
In Plymouth, Dr Josie Forte, a trained optometrist and director of all the city’s Specsavers branches, told Plymouth Live in December 2018 that: “We have a shortage of optometrists here in the South West and we want to promote optometry.
“The starting salary is £35,000 to £40,000, which is good for local people. The University of Plymouth has run a course for seven years, the first of its type in the South West. But it does not seem to be on the radar locally, so I’m appealing for it, to bring awareness of this fantastic career.
“Because we have having to bring optometrists from London, Manchester and Birmingham to the South West.”
Meanwhile, just over half of solicitor roles were still vacant after 60 days, with surgeons not far behind on 46.32%.
But of the top 10 “hard to fill” jobs – that’s those with the highest proportion of vacancies taking more than 60 days to find a suitable candidate – the vast majority are in the tech sector.
This is likely to be an indication both of the tech jobs boom – which presents great opportunities to talented jobseekers – and also of how employers are having to be patient to find staff with the specialist skills they need.
Here are the top 20 jobs that most need workers ranked by how much they pay
1 software architect – £70,000
2 optometrist – £50,000
3 full stack developer – £47,500
4 solicitor – £45,000
5 front end developer – £42,500
6 surgeon – £41,000
7 software engineer – £40,000
8 software test engineer – £40,000
9 system engineer – £37,500
10 registered nurse – £35,360
11 flight attendant – £23,000
12 customer assistant – £19,369
13 delivery driver – £18,616
14 chef – £18,408
15 care assistant – £18 221
16 customer service representative – £18,000
17 server – £17,722
18 support staff – £17,680
19 cleaner – £16,630
20 sales assistant – £16,432
Jobs widget in article
Software engineers (41.8%), software architects (41.78%), front-end developers (40.31%), system engineers (40.24%), software test engineers (39.86%) and full stack developers (39.76%) are all prominent “hard to fill” jobs.
This is despite them being highly lucrative: all pay an average annual salary of £37,500 or more, with the average software architect able to command almost double at £70,000.
These wages are of particular significance In the South West where 70% of workers earn less than £30,000 per year and the average wage in the region is £22,223, below the UK average of £24,006 (median).
Indeed also examined the data to identify where the most opportunities lie for jobseekers, determining which roles have the highest outright number of “hard to fill” postings.
Cleaners account for almost 3% of the jobs currently listed on Indeed that are classed as “hard to fill” – meaning that of all “hard to fill” jobs, one in around 33 is for a cleaner.
Although only 11.53% of cleaner jobs are classed as “hard to fill”, the overall quantity of cleaners being sought means that, as a proportion of “hard to fill” jobs, cleaner roles top the list.
Cleaners, however, only earn an average salary of £16,640.
Not far behind are support staff (2.15% of “hard to fill” jobs), chefs (2.06% and earning £18,408) and customer service representatives (1.91%, earning £18,000), while care assistants complete the top five, making up 1.677% of all “hard to fill” jobs listed on Indeed’s website, and earning an average £18,221.
Nurses feature alongside care assistants in the top 10. There are fears that the shortfall in nurses, which can earn an average of £35,360, in the UK could top 50,000 within the next two years, while Britain’s ageing population is already much more reliant on carers than previous generations.
Among many of the roles where candidates are proving most elusive are lower-skilled and entry-level jobs.
Given there is already difficulty in filling these roles, there is rising concern among employers that post-Brexit constraints on the ability of EU citizens to work in the UK could make it even harder for British bosses to source workers.
Bill Richards, UK managing director of Indeed, said: “Even at the best of times, finding the right staff requires a winning blend of hiring strategies. But the current jobs’ market has raised the bar for many employers.
“With a higher proportion of the population in work than ever before, the pool of jobseekers is a shallow one. When demand from employers outpaces the supply of workers, it can take a long time to fill vacancies – and our research pinpoints which ones have been most affected.
“The Brexit connection is hard to overlook. Many of the ‘hardest to fill’ roles have historically been ones that were filled by EU workers drawn to the UK by Britain’s more abundant job opportunities.
“With official data showing net migration from the EU slowing, these roles are set to become even harder to fill.
“But on the other side of the coin, where employers see difficulty, jobseekers should see opportunity. Clearly in a tight labour market like ours, much of the power already sits with the workers, but these roles that are notoriously hard to fill could prove especially fruitful for ambitious jobseekers looking for a new challenge.”
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