Amid jobless rise…
Job vacancies remain at record highs, prompting a business leader to warn that the skills shortage is hindering recovery.
The number of job vacancies between August and October was 1,225,000, a fall of 46,000 from the previous three months, but 429,000 (54%) above the January to March 2020 pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level.
The data emerged alongside the latest unemployment figures showing the UK rate edged up to 3.6% in the three months to September, from 3.5% in August. The Scottish unemployment rate was 3.5%, up 0.3 % points on the previous three months.
Darren Morgan, director of labour and economic statistics at the Office for National Statistics, said “the proportion of people neither working nor looking for work has risen again.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, this shift has largely been caused by older workers leaving the labour market altogether, but in the most recent quarter the main contribution has actually come from younger groups.”
Jane Gratton, head of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The challenges facing businesses in the UK labour market remain very much the same. We have a critical shortage of skills and labour that is damaging firms and holding back growth.
“Once again, the data shows the number of job vacancies remains at record highs, adding to inflationary pressures.
“With confidence waning as we enter recession, and the expectation of even tougher economic times ahead, we may see more recruitment freezes, job losses and business closures.
“But the underlying problem is unaltered – unless we address the ongoing mismatch of skills available and business needs, this drag anchor on the economy will persist and hinder recovery.
“We need to remove barriers to work, by offering flexible workplaces, rapid re-training opportunities and better access to childcare and public transport.
“And, crucially, we need to invest more in the training and upskilling of everyone in the workplace so that we are ready to grasp new opportunities for growth.
Matt Weston, senior UK and Ireland managing director at recruitment agency Robert Half, said: “The number of vacancies to job seeker remain at historically high levels. There simply are not enough skilled workers for the jobs available. This is contributing to very strong regular pay growth, which is now running at 6.6% in the private sector.
“Employers are pulling out all the stops to attract, and crucially, retain staff. However, even if high inflation is eroding pay packets and a recession is forecast for the end of 2022, we are entering 2023 with record low unemployment and where the redundancy rate, whilst edging up, is below pre-pandemic rates.”
Tania Bowers, global public policy director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies, added: “The issue of a limited workforce does need urgent attention. We have found the new Prime Minister’s recent focus on skills and education promising, however there has been too much disruption that has distracted efforts away from the skills agenda.
“The UK needs urgent action to rebalance skills availability, including a suitable visa route for international highly skilled contractors, a flexible approach to apprenticeships and an Employment Bill that is appropriate in the modern, flexible world of work.”
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said joblessness remained near record lows, but added “people’s hard-earned money isn’t going as far as it should”.
“Tackling inflation is my absolute priority and that guides the difficult decisions on tax and spending we will make on Thursday.”
Labour’s shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, said the UK was paying for “12 years of Tory economic mistakes”.
Regular pay continues to lag behind the cost of living, falling by 2.7% in the year to August when adjusted for inflation.
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Amid jobless rise…