LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Halfords (HFD.L) is aiming to recruit 1,000 new technicians over the next 12 months by attracting retirees to work in its car repair centres, as Britain’s tight labour market drives employers to hunt down new resources to fuel growth.
Companies in Britain are struggling to recruit staff. The unemployment rate hit its lowest level since 1974 in October at a time when the size of the workforce has shrunk since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Much of the shortage reflects a big increase in the number of older people who are neither in work nor actively looking for a job.
Halfords, which sells motoring and cycling services and products, said on Wednesday it would target people who had retired in the last few years but might now be considering a return to work due to the cost-of-living crisis.
“We need to be ambitious and creative in the way we go about meeting the demand for technicians,” CEO Graham Stapleton said in a statement.
“We want to give people the best possible route to return to work.”
Post-pandemic almost all other rich nations apart from Britain have seen their labour markets fully recover.
The lack of workers is a concern for the Bank of England, which sees it as a factor pushing up inflation and wages in the short term, and limiting Britain’s longer-term growth.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday rejected calls for looser immigration rules, leaving employers like Halfords no choice but to look for recruits at home.
Halfords also said it wants to encourage more women to train to repair cars.
By offering more flexible working, including part-time hours, and apprenticeships to older people, plus opening a training academy, Halfords hopes it will attract retirees.
And that combination could be just the ticket.
According to an ONS survey of older people who had left work during the pandemic and not returned, 58% said they would consider returning to work, but many of them wanted more flexible hours, good pay or the ability to work from home.
Operating from over 600 garages across Britain, Halfords is the largest provider of motoring services and it expects demand for vehicle servicing, maintenance and annual MOT tests on cars to increase because the country’s car fleet is ageing.
Halfords also on Wednesday warned that full-year earnings would be at the bottom end of forecasts as Britons spend less on non-essentials.
Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Paul Sandle and Jason Neely
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