It is predicted that eight million jobs will go unfilled globally by the end of 2030 as the world is forever changed by Covid-19. So where are the workers, and what else contributes to the global shortage?
Alongside the tragic deaths of over six million people and the effects of long Covid on many others, the pandemic brought about a string of mental health issues, immigration disruptions and shifts in worker expectations. There are simply fewer people available to the workforce, and after many months of working from home, those that remain seek more flexibility and a greater work-life balance.
Wages play a major role in recruiting staff. Workers want more cash as the cost of living and inflation continue to creep up. Lower-paying jobs will continue to be challenging to recruit for, as wage increases are expected across every continent in 2023.
Not only has Covid decreased the number of workers out there, but so has the aging population. Between 2015 and 2050, the globe’s population of over 60-year-olds is expected to double - the fastest rate ever. On top of this, birth rates are decreasing dramatically, and 75 countries already have a fertility rate that falls below the desired 2.1 replacement rate.
There is also a significant skills gap among workers due to the integration of advancing technology in workplaces. This challenge is not new but intensified by the pandemic as technology continued to progress while people paused. A global study found 87 percent of employers struggle with skills gap issues.
New Zealand has become familiar with this issue. Job vacancies are currently at an all-time high, at 266.99 index points. There is potential for this to grow with the predicted GDP increase that will see an additional 40,000 jobs added to the market annually. With the unemployment rate sitting at 3.3 percent, only approximately 97,000 eligible people are not in the workforce and a total working-age population of 1.26 million.
Over the summer, the shortage has been felt particularly in the tourism, hospitality and horticulture industries, as overseas workers have traditionally filled these jobs. While visa caps have been increased, total border crossings only sat at 646,100 for the year-end September 2022, compared to 1.1 million pre-pandemic, and there was an annual net-migration loss of 8,400.