From education to employment

250,000 fewer 16–24-year-olds in work as unemployment reaches nearly 5%

Young person in a t-shirt

@ONS labour market stats – unemployment rate nearing 5% and 250,000 fewer 16–24-year-olds in employment than before the start of the pandemic 

The latest ONS UK Labour market statistics have been released from the Office of National Statistics, and they are grim reading, unemployment is nearly at 5%. The latest labour market statistics show there are 250,000 fewer 16–24-year-olds in employment than before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rishi Sunak 100x100Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

“This crisis has gone on far longer than any of us hoped – and every job lost as a result is a tragedy. Whilst the NHS is working hard to protect people with the vaccine we’re throwing everything we’ve got at supporting businesses, individuals and families.

“Our Plan for Jobs includes grants and loans so that firms can keep employees on, the furlough scheme to help protect jobs, and programmes like Kickstart alongside record investment in skills so that people can find their first job, their next job or a new job if needed.”

What is the sector response to the ‘long Covid effect’ on employment and the economy?

sam Windett 100x100Samantha Windett, Director of Policy at Impetus and Co-Chair of the Youth Employment Group said: 

“The fall in employment for young people since the start of the crisis is larger than any other group. The latest labour market statistics show there are 250,000 fewer 16–24-year-olds in employment than before the start of the pandemic and unemployment levels remain high.

 “Already 2.5 times more likely to work in sectors worst impacted by previous lockdowns, the economic effect on young people has only been exacerbated by the continuing disruptions. It’s clear that young people urgently need support.

 “In June, the Prime Minister announced an Opportunity Guarantee for every young person. Amid an ever-worsening youth employment crisis, we need government action to deliver on that promise. No young person should spend more than six months unemployed before accessing a meaningful education, training or employment opportunity.

“The latest numbers on the Kickstart Scheme show that many employers have had no choice but to delay their placements given the continuing disruption of lockdowns. Kickstart must be extended past December this year to give all employers engaged in the scheme the time they need to fulfil their plans and offer thousands more young people the opportunity of employment.”

Stephen Evans LW 100x100Responding to today’s labour market figures, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, Stephen Evans, said:

“The economic fallout from the pandemic is becoming clearer, with unemployment rising and employment falling. The furlough scheme has protected millions of jobs, but the prospect of a cliff edge in support at the scheme’s planned end in October while restrictions continued contributed to a spike in redundancies. The late extension of the scheme came too late to prevent that. The lesson is that support needs to be in place for as long as economic restrictions last. Otherwise we risk a further raft of redundancies when furlough is due to end in April.

“We also need further urgent action to help those who have already lost their jobs through the crisis. Young people have been particularly hard hit, but while the Government has taken many of the right actions, delivery remains a challenge: Kickstart has had to be revised to get delivery going while a promised expansion in Traineeships is yet to materialise. Time for a Youth Guarantee to ensure all young people are offered a job, apprenticeship or training place.”

Matthew Percival 100x100Matthew Percival, CBI Director of People and Skills, said:

“Unemployment rising to 5% and continued high redundancies show the difficult decisions businesses face.

“The prospect of extending lockdown makes it urgent that the Chancellor acts now to extent job and business support. The Job Retention Scheme needs to run to at least the end of June to avoid a cliff-edge.”


Tony Wilson 100x100IES Director Tony Wilson on today’s Labour Market Statistics: 

“While the record redundancy figures are likely to take the headlines today, underneath this there are signs that the labour market had stabilised by the end of last year.  The fall in employment appears to have stopped in the most recent quarter, covering September to November, with weekly data showing employment flat overall.  The rise in unemployment is mainly being driven by more of those already out of work starting to look for a new job.  The most recent quarter has also seen a slight recovery in employment for 18 to 24 year olds, which is encouraging.

“However while things have stopped getting worse, they weren’t getting much better either – with new job starts still well below pre-crisis levels and vacancies falling back again.  It’s inevitable that things will have deteriorated since January, so as we start to look ahead to the easing of restrictions in the spring we will need to do a lot more to stimulate hiring and support jobs growth.” 

James Reed 100x100 2020James Reed, chairman of REED, Britain’s leading recruitment brand.

“Today’s ONS unemployment statistics support the Chancellor’s November prediction that the ‘economic emergency has only just begun.’

“However, we must all remember how far we’ve come as a nation and know that the UK labour market is recovering against all the odds. Last week, the total number of jobs posted on was 4% higher than the same period in 2020 – which is particularly impressive considering the pandemic hadn’t started by then.

“Additionally, nearly 100,000 jobs went live on our site during the first two weeks of this lockdown – 10% and 101% higher than the same period in the second and first lockdown respectively. The jobs growth shows that we have adapted successfully to live and work with the virus.

“Existing sectors such as IT & Telecoms, Education, and Social Care currently have the most job opportunities. However, due to the pandemic, new roles are also emerging. We currently have 895 COVID-19 related and vaccination roles on, stretching from COVID Marshall to community vaccinator. I urge anyone seeking employment to consider their skillset and apply to help fight against the pandemic.

“I’m optimistic about the future. With the vaccination programme gathering pace, the economy will begin to reopen and a return to normality could be sooner than expected. Jobseekers are urged to get ready for an easing in lockdown restrictions, and those currently unemployed or furloughed can do so by upskilling or reskilling for the emerging post-pandemic and post-Brexit economy.” 

Paul Naha-Biswas, CEO and Founder at Sixley, the talent recommendations platform:

“Although the vaccination effort continues to gather pace, today’s ONS unemployment statistics are a further reminder that the economic legacy of COVID-19 will be with us long after the pandemic has ended.

“With the UK in another national lockdown for the foreseeable future, it is possible that – in economic terms – things will get worse before they get better.

“However, as we look to later this year, it is not all doom and gloom. Experts believe that up to 54 million Brits should be vaccinated by early summer, and when we reach this threshold a substantial portion of the economy will open up, and a slight sense of normality should return.

“In this interim period before widespread immunity, it is imperative that friends and family of those looking for work search across their networks, identify job opportunities, and recommend them for a role. We have never had a job market with such a sizeable crop of experienced, talented candidates – however, this experience also makes it highly competitive. In such a crowded jobs market, a recommendation can make all the difference.”

David Morel, CEO, Tiger Recruitment

“The latest ONS labour market statistics tell a familiar story as the pandemic continues to take its toll on UK jobs, showing a large rise in unemployment in the three months to November and record redundancies.

“However, more positively, average total pay increased to 3.6%, which tallies with our own figures: 62% of placed candidates saw a rise from their previous salary in Q4, compared to just 27% in Q3.

“Our data for the rest of the year and early January shows an improving picture and gives grounds for optimism in 2021: in December we saw a 30% rise in the number of temporary roles briefed in to the agency in Q4 2020 versus Q3, coupled with a 3% increase in the number of permanent jobs.

“Buoyed by the promise of the vaccine, many businesses are pushing forward with their hiring plans this year – albeit tentatively. Despite hopes of some return to ‘normality’, employers are still waiting to hear when and how the current lockdown restrictions will be eased. The uncertainty is driving the demand for temporary skills as a way for businesses to access the talent they need without a long-term commitment, while muting new permanent briefs in what is traditionally our busiest time. However, while business is down on this time last year, we are seeing an uplift in business month-on-month since the first lockdown.”

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