Galvanisers Needed: Post-Brexit Worker Vacancies Strain UK Employers

British manufacturing firm Corbetts the Galvanizers relied on a stream workers from Poland and Romania to supply its shop floor. Steel is dipped in a long vat filled with molten zinc at temperatures around 450°C (842°F)
It is now offering 500-pound ($602) start bonuses and free fish and chips to lure local workers who are hesitant to do the sometimes hard work.
Employers and the Bank of England are concerned about Britain’s labour shortages and the impact they have on pay. This is as it attempts to control the largest increase in inflation in 40-years.
There are many losers, but there are also winners. The overhaul of immigration rules after Britain’s exit from the European Union resulted in a halt to free movement of workers within the bloc after 2020.
Last year saw record numbers of foreign medics and more visas for work were issued to Zimbabweans than to French citizens.
Corbetts is a typical example of firms that are rethinking their hiring practices. It is located in Telford, central England, near the birthplace for the industrial revolution.
Galvanising staff earn less than the 25,600 pounds per year required for an employer sponsoring a visa.
The 162-year-old company had the ability to count on migrant workers, mainly from Poland or Romania, before Brexit. They were recruited mostly through word of mouth.
According to Sophie Williams, managing director, it has been difficult to find staff over the past year.
It can get very dirty, dusty, and smoky in summer. It’s not for everyone,” she said.
Williams has 52 galvanisers, and Williams wants to hire 40 more before reopening the second facility that was closed during the pandemic.
The Telford plant produces 35,000 tonnes of steel per year. This includes everything from lamp posts to horse trailer chassis. Automation is not an option.
Corbetts offers a variety of incentives to attract and retain staff in a time when Britain’s unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since 1974 and the cost-of-living is pushing up salaries in the private sector.
500 pounds for new hires who stay six month – an additional bonus extended to existing staff – workers also received 100 pounds to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70th year on the throne, chocolate Easter eggs and Christmas vouchers from supermarkets. There are occasional perks like free fish and chips.
It also increased its minimum starting pay rate by 6.4% to 9.84 pounds per hour.
The firm is more flexible in who it hires, including younger workers who work together with an older employee and its first female galvaniser.
A new, more long-term program to increase staff retention will sponsor workers to learn how to operate cranes and forklift trucks, as well as delivery lorries and eventually, to receive management training.
Mike Fiddler, 27, lost his job as a construction worker during the pandemic. He now works at Corbetts delivery yard, while he trains to be a truck driver.
“It’s faster, it’s dirtier, and a lot more hands on. But it’s great fun,” Fiddler stated.
Williams isn’t sure if she will be able to find enough employees to expand the business that aims for 13 million pounds in sales by 2022.
British employers had a record number of job vacancies in the three-months to May. This is equivalent to 4.3 jobs per 100, which is similar to Germany. The vacancy rates in the United States, Belgium, and the Netherlands are even higher.
However, Britain’s overall vacancy rate is higher than the EU average of 2.9.
Businesses are certain that Brexit is partly to blame, as official data shows that there are 188,000 fewer EU workers living in Britain than they did two years ago.
Neil Carberry, chief executive at the Recruitment and Embranches, stated that “the barriers to entry in terms employers hiring from Europe now are much higher”

Galvanisers Needed: Post-Brexit Worker Vacancies Strain UK Employers
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