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Bosses are hiring staff who can work from home…in Latvia

As Britain’s offices lie empty, top recruiter reveals bosses are hiring staff who can work from home…in Latvia

British firms are hiring people based abroad to fill remote working roles, one of the country’s top recruiters has revealed. 

Robert Walters – founder of the listed £500million recruitment firm that bears his name – said some firms are mulling using the move to permanent home working to cut costs and expand their talent pools. 

His company’s chief executive, Toby Fowlston, told The Mail on Sunday that one UK tech firm had gone on a hiring spree in the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. 

Go east!: One UK tech firm had gone on a hiring spree in the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia (pictured) and Lithuania

He said: ‘Employers know there’s real wage inflation in the UK. They are thinking, ‘If we’re working fully remotely, we should tap into markets that aren’t as expensive where the skill sets are just as high’.’ 

Fowlston said Poland and South Africa were also attracting interest from British firms. ‘In South Africa you’ve got 35 per cent unemployment,’ he said. ‘The rand against the pound is another attraction.

‘The reality is that there are some incredibly good people overseas, who can do a lot of these jobs. The question then becomes how governments react to this.’ 

Official statistics last week showed that UK job vacancies hit a record 935,000 in July. As well as a shortage of waiters and lorry drivers, employers in industries such as technology and the legal sector are looking to take on more staff. Walters said: ‘The shortage starts throwing up all sorts of questions around hybrid working and where you start looking for your people.’ 

Some firms have told staff they can work from home indefinitely, while others are trying to coax more people back to the office.

Asked whether the recruitment of overseas-based home workers posed a threat to British staff, Walters said: ‘I wouldn’t say it’s a threat. It’s an opportunity for people to actually evaluate what skills they need and where a job physically needs to be done.’ 

Earlier this year, the Tony Blair Institute warned that the pandemic has left nearly six million jobs – across industries including finance, manufacturing and communication – at risk of being shifted overseas. It said firms may ’employ only the core staff required for in-person collaboration and decision making, while outsourcing and offshoring those who are not’. 

Fowlston said many employers were assessing whether to let staff work overseas for periods as ‘digital nomads’ and whether to pay them in line with local salaries. 

Some economists believe the end of furlough next month will help to fill vacant roles. Others expect a rise in joblessness. Unemployment was 4.7 per cent in the three months to June, according to the Office for National Statistics, far lower than forecast at the start of the pandemic. 

Fowlston said: ‘The jobs market is playing catch-up with the strong rebound in global economies. It’s like a catapult has been pulled back and let go.’ 

Walters said that jobs in specialist areas such as cyber security or in niche legal roles are paying up to 25 per cent more than a year ago. 

Rival recruiter Hays is next week expected to post bullish annual results. It enjoyed a 39 per cent rise in net fees in the final three months of its financial year.

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