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Jobs ‘timebomb’ ahead without govt intervention

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Despite the huge increase in job listings over the past few months, an even greater increase in the number of unemployed people has led to a sharp rise in the number of jobseekers per vacancy.

Analysis by online job search engine Adzuna and the Institute for Employment Studies found that despite the record number of vacancies advertised in June, on average the number of claimant unemployed per advertised role had risen to 2.2, up from 1.2 in March.

While the research found that there were more than a million jobs available in June, with more than 300,000 new vacancies advertised in the past week alone, it also pointed to a mismatch between the location and skills of jobseekers and the roles on offer.

Disparities between regions meant that in 30 locations there were more than 10 unemployed claimants chasing every vacancy, while in almost 100 areas there were more than five claimants for each job.

Ex-industrial, inner city and ‘Red Wall’ areas, where inequalities predated the pandemic, were found to be worst affected by imbalances in supply and demand.

Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said: “Since the turn of the year we’ve gone from talking about an unemployment crisis to a recruitment crisis.  But the reality is that we’re facing a bit of both – with many firms struggling to fill jobs at the same time that more than two million people are struggling to find work. These problems are particularly acute in many of those areas that were faring worse before the crisis began and that are most in need of support as we come out of it.

“Government deserves credit for helping to avoid a jobs catastrophe last year.  But if we don’t act quickly now to help employers to fill jobs and the unemployed to take them up then we could be setting a timebomb for next year of labour shortages, higher inflation and long-term unemployment.”

Skills gap widening

This sentiment was echoed by Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, which found in its latest JobsOutlook survey that business confidence in the UK economy had turned positive for the first time since June 2018.

“This surge in employers’ confidence in the UK economy is remarkable – an improvement of 61 percentage points from the previous quarter as restrictions were lifted and businesses started to open again. Positivity about hiring has steadily improved alongside that, and we are now seeing the highest levels of confidence for five years.

“However, we are seeing labour and skills shortages across the economy right now, which the pandemic has made worse. These could threaten to slow down the recovery if not addressed quickly. It’s vital that companies and governments come together and improve access to training and support for everyone who needs it, so that jobseekers are able to find work in those sectors that are growing.”

Part of the issue is that the pandemic has brought about enormous growth in some sectors, but led to a drop-off in others, meaning many of those out of work aren’t immediately suited to the roles on offer.

Adzuna’s analysis, using Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, showed that while trade and construction jobs have doubled compared with March 2020 and logistics and warehousing and manufacturing vacancies have more than trebled, other sectors have been flat or seen little growth.

For example, accounting/finance, legal, energy, healthcare/nursing and graduate jobs had all seen growth of 4% or less, with graduate roles actually declining slightly since March 2020.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, explained: “Many of the people currently out of work aren’t matching up to the jobs on offer, despite an acute talent shortage. This means many jobs are lying unfilled and accumulating, inflating overall hiring volumes.

“Upskilling and retraining will be crucial to ensure this talent flows where it’s needed. Wider moves to help people into jobs, including better childcare support and regular, flexible hours will play a part.”

The Adzuna/Institute for Employment Studies report called on the government to help employers and jobseekers by getting Jobcentre Plus back up and running and by offering funding for retraining in shortage sectors.

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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