Concerns about manpower gaps

The “heat” from the labour shortage has continued to spread to many continents, from Asia to Europe, and seriously hindered the economic recovery, following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Workers travel through London Bridge rail and underground station during the morning rush hour in London, Britain, September 8, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS)
Workers travel through London Bridge rail and underground station during the morning rush hour in London, Britain, September 8, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS)

Stemming from many different causes, the human resource crisis also affected security and social stability, due to the wave of workers' strikes.

Britain is reeling from the worst health crisis. In the past few days, the scene of patients waiting in long lines to access medical services, whether it is normal or urgent services, has appeared in all large and small hospitals, throughout the European country. A new record for emergency medical services was that 43,792 patients had to wait at least 12 hours for timely treatment.

Many patients have to wait in trolleys instead of being treated in hospital beds. The causes of the above situation were the appearance of many diseases during winter and a serious manpower gap in the health sector. The National Health Service of the UK has been experiencing a shortage of nurses at a record high of around 47,000.

In other regions, countries such as Japan and Australia also share the same concern about the manpower gap. As many as 286 occupations in Australia suffer from a shortage of skilled workers, from chemical engineers to slaughterhouse workers.

Statistics showed that there were 301,100 advertised jobs in Australia in August 2022, an increase of 37.7%, compared to the same period last year.

In Japan, many businesses are also experiencing a shortage of full-time workers. Survey results showed that up to 50.1% of businesses face a shortage of full-time workers. This is the first time since November 2019, that the rate of enterprises lacking workers in this country was above 50%.

While economies are poised to speed up their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, ironically, the labour shortage is a serious problem, causing many industries to stagnate.

The prolonged COVID-19 syndrome is one of the main factors leading to this serious manpower crisis. With symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations, and poor mobility, the prolonged COVID-19 syndrome is a hidden corner behind the pandemic, which is still being studied carefully by scientists.

However, it is possible to realise the fact that this syndrome severely affects the patient’s health and prevents them from returning to work. In the UK, up to 2.1 million people have suffered from persistent COVID-19 syndrome. According to the survey, more than 75% of Britons with this syndrome choose to reduce their workload or change jobs.

A stressful working environment with a high workload and few human resources has also made many people exhausted, both in physical and mental terms. Another reason is that wages have not kept up with the rise in prices due to inflation.

This fact has led to a wave of widespread strikes in a variety of industries such as passenger transport, healthcare, and post and telecommunications, to require increased wages, and improved working conditions for workers. This problem has caused stagnation of economic activity in the countries. Other factors are the ageing of the population and the change in lifestyle following the pandemic.

To quench the thirst for human resources, Germany, the Republic of Korea and Canada, have applied new immigration policies to help attract high-quality human resources from abroad. Australia has promoted skill training activities for workers by sponsoring free apprenticeships.

In an attempt to resolve the crisis on their own, some businesses decided to raise wages to attract workers. However, this measure will face many obstacles due to a series of difficulties from the pandemic and inflation, making them struggle to find ways to compensate for damage and maintain operations during this difficult period.

The interweaving crises from high inflation, gas supply bottlenecks and complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, are “shadowing” the progress of global socio-economic recovery.

The problem of serious labour shortage has made the situation even more difficult. Obviously, the current human resource crisis is an important issue during the post-COVID-19, requiring the countries to draw up a flexible, comprehensive and long-term plan in response to all changes in the market.