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Vacancies doesn’t mean opportunities for all young people | ONS labour market stats Jan 2022

People around desk, shaking hands
  • Today’s statistics show a new record number of 1,247,000 job vacancies
  • There are still 364,000 unemployed 18-24-year-olds in the UK
  • The number of employees on payroll are now above pre-coronavirus levels in all regions of the UK.
  • Research from recruitment firm Reed has found that December was the best time in 50 years to be applying for work, with vacancies at record levels.
  • The number of potential redundancies notified to the Insolvency Service by month since 2020 is published here, and data going back to 2006 is available in this FOI request response.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said:

“Today’s figures are proof that the jobs market is thriving, with employee numbers rising to record levels, and redundancy notifications at their lowest levels since 2006 in December.

“From traineeships for young people to Sector Based Work Academies for those switching careers, our Plan for Jobs is continuing to create opportunity for all.”

Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said:

“Our Plan for Jobs is levelling up opportunity across the nation to progress, with payroll employment above pre-pandemic levels in every region.

“As we begin the new year, our Jobcentres are open for business, to give people the skills and confidence they need to seize new and better paid jobs in 2022. And increases in the National Living Wage and changes to Universal Credit means everyone has the support they need to move forward and be ready to grab the record number of vacancies out there.”

Commenting on the figures, IES Director Tony Wilson said:

“Today’s jobs figures are disappointing overall.  Despite record levels of vacancies and unprecedented demand, employment is unchanged on the figures reported last month while economic inactivity, the measure of those who have left the labour market entirely, appears to be rising.  This weak performance is being driven in particular by fewer older people in the labour market, especially fewer older women, t and more people out of work due to long-term ill health.  With nearly as many vacancies as there are unemployed people, employers are facing the tightest labour market in at least fifty years, with labour shortages now holding back our recovery.  As each month passes these issues appear to be getting worse, with the recovery clearly stalling on the eve of the Omicron outbreak.  So as we start the new year we need a new ‘Plan for Jobs’ that will raise participation and tackle the recruitment crisis.”

Responding to the latest UK Labour market statistics from the Office of National Statistics, Steve Haines, Director of Public Affairs at youth charity Impetus is urging the Government to build on its Plan for Jobs and support young people into work to tackle the new record number of vacancies:    

“We must work harder to support young people into work. It’s easy to assume that a record number of vacancies means there are opportunities for all young people. This is not the case – the fact is that a significant proportion of unemployed young people simply aren’t work ready. They need support before they have the skills and confidence required to enter the world of work.

“We cannot go on wasting young people’s potential. Now is the time to level up young people with proven evidence-based interventions. Government must invest in young people’s essential skills in the levelling up white paper due this month.”

Responding to the latest ONS figures, Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of Learning and Work Institute, said:

“The year ahead will be dominated by the cost of living crunch and labour shortages. Today’s data shows prices rose faster than wages in November. With higher inflation and tax rises still to come, the Government needs to help households: the cost of living crunch has only just begun.

Commenting on the latest employment figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today (Tuesday), which show real pay (pay once inflation has been taken into account) falling by 1.0 per cent in the year to November 2021, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: 

“While it’s good to see employment continuing to rise, on pay it’s the same story of a squeeze on workers.

“Working people deserve a decent standard of living and a wage they can raise a family on. But instead, following the worse pay squeeze for two centuries, real pay is falling, and they now face a cost-of-living crisis.

“We urgently need to get pay packets rising across the economy – or too many families will have to choose between paying soaring bills or putting food on the table.

“Ministers must give unions more power to go into workplaces and negotiate better pay and conditions, give our public sector workers a decent pay rise, and get the minimum wage up to £10 an hour immediately.”

Walid Koudmani, market analyst at financial brokerage XTB comments:

“Today’s unemployment figures brought some optimism to investors as they demonstrated the continuing pace of the post pandemic recovery after the economy faced significant difficulties dealing with such a large-scale disruption. However, while an improvement, today’s figures continue to highlight the slight differences between groups of people returning to work and the need to remain determined to return to pre-pandemic levels. The government has been focusing on supporting the job market and today’s report could be an encouraging sign while being an indication of potential adjustments by parliament or the Bank of England in the near future.”

Geoff Smith, CEO, Grayce, comments on the need for nurturing digital skills in the younger individuals:

“With redundancy rates returning to a pre-pandemic level, we’re seeing wider signs of recovery for the UK job market as a whole. It’s also really encouraging that employment levels for our younger age groups have continued to rise through the quarter,  despite the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) being withdrawn at the end of September 2021. These younger, tech-savvy individuals have digital skillsets that will be invaluable to the UK workforce as we settle into this new digital and hybrid era, especially in light of the accelerated pace of digital transformation. We’ve seen first-hand how this has increased the demand for tech-focussed skillsets, now servicing 65% more clients than in 2016 for change, data and tech placements.

“With this in mind, we must encourage our young people to continuously learn and develop new and relevant skillsets throughout their formal education and beyond. It’s worrying that this year’s GCSE results still showed that the number of girls taking computing has fallen for the second year in a row, so we must do our best to help more develop crucial tech skills and improve their chances of employability today and future proof their careers for tomorrow. The demand for digital talent is currently outgrowing the supply, so if we can continue to develop the technical skills of our younger groups, and improve diversity in the sector, we’ll ensure the digital skills gap is closed, whilst continuing to provide companies with the best tech talent.”

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