Major British brands go on hiring spree amid chronic labour shortage

British Airways, Domino's and Addison Lee recruit as economy recovers from Covid-19

British Airways is hiring cabin crew to work on flights in the summer of next year as international travel picks up. Photo: BA
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Hiring activity is accelerating in the UK as leading brands including British Airways, Domino’s Pizza and Addison Lee unveil large-scale recruitment drives as Britain grapples with a chronic labour shortage.

British Airways plans to recruit an undisclosed number of cabin crew, after thousands lost their jobs at the airline last year, while Domino’s Pizza Group said it plans to hire 8,000 delivery drivers in the UK and Ireland despite the “challenging” labour market.

Addison Lee, meanwhile, London’s largest taxi firm, is offering drivers £5,000 for four weeks' work. The salary guarantee applies to the first month and requires drivers to complete 140 trips, the company said on Friday. Additional perks include paid days off and a pension.

"As London recovers, we're delighted to be able to grow the driver community with market-leading rates of pay and benefits,” said Addison chief executive Liam Griffin.

"It's encouraging to see London reopening and the city coming back to life. Drivers will have a huge role to play in helping people getting around the city as safely and reliably as possible.”

The company is planning to hire 1,000 drivers after business passenger-car trips jumped more than 40 per cent between August and September. The company expects growth to continue through the Christmas holidays.

The number of job vacancies in the UK hit a record high of 1.2 million in September, according to the Office for National Statistics, as unemployment fell to 4.5 per cent in the three months to August, down from its pandemic peak of 5.2 per cent at the end of last year.

The shortage of staff has added further pressures to company supply chains that are already struggling with delays in shipping goods and higher prices of raw materials.

The hiring challenges have led some businesses to offer higher pay to new and existing workers to prevent them switching to another job or sector, with underlying wage growth rising to between 4.1 per cent and 5.6 per cent in the three months through August, according to the ONS, well above the 3 per cent seen before the pandemic.

Recruiter Hays said earlier this week that there are “clear signs of skill shortages and wage inflation, particularly at higher salary levels", according to Alistair Cox, Hays’ chief executive.

Last month, Amazon said it will pay bonuses to attract temporary staff in the UK as it looks to recruit 20,000 seasonal workers ahead of the busy festive period.

The world’s biggest online retailer will offer one-off payments to see off competition from other employers in regions where there is high demand for labour. Those willing to work nights will also receive extra pay.

Meanwhile, Domino's said more than half of the 8,000 new jobs it is recruiting for will be permanent roles.

This is the second hiring spree this year for the pizza chain, after it said in June that it would hire 5,000 pizza chefs and delivery drivers.

The company, who runs its branches under a franchise model, wants to open another 200 locations over the next few years.

BA, meanwhile, is looking to take on staff to work on flights in the summer of next year.

The airline said it has already contacted former employees who were made redundant last year but who expressed an interest to return to the airline when jobs are available.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ chairman and chief executive, said the airline was “finally seeing a demand for travel return” after “18 long months of closed or restricted borders across the world".

"As we look ahead to next summer, we are excited to start welcoming brilliant new people and former colleagues back to the British Airways family," he said.

Trade union Unite described the move as "another attempt to drive down pay and conditions".

It said 4,700 cabin crew were made redundant last year during the coronavirus outbreak.

Updated: October 15, 2021, 12:42 PM