An assessment of jobs policies in the three main political parties’ manifestos has been published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Outlining the findings, Dr John Philpott, CIPD’s chief economic adviser, says: “The opposition Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties should acknowledge the underlying strength of the UK labour market prior to and during the recession and the degree to which current government policy has helped curb substantially the rise in unemployment.
“The Labour Party meanwhile should accept that its record on jobs in government is blemished by a persistently high rate of ‘economic inactivity’, far too many young people not in employment, education or training, and over reliance on migrant workers.”
On public sector jobs, the CIPD warns the post-election spending squeeze will be far greater than any of the main political parties are prepared to admit. The report outlines a possible ten per cent cut in the 5.8 million core publish sector workforce.
“Moreover, it is misleading to suggest that the pain of job loss could be eased by some combination of pay cuts or short-time working,” it adds.
“This strategy has been successful in the private sector during the recession as a means of avoiding redundancies during a cyclical downturn in the economy but is not an effective response where long-term structural change is involved.”
The CIPD praises all political parties for their enthusiasm for creating jobs in the low-carbon, digital and creative sectors. However, the body cautions the “suggestion that any particular policy will result in any given number of jobs should be considered purely speculative”.
What will ultimately matter, the CIPD says, is the overall effectiveness of macroeconomic policy and measures to boost enterprise, skills and employability.
The assessment also raises doubts over whether any of the policies on offer will genuinely boost the long-term employment and earnings prospects of young jobless people. It points to past policies that provided only short-term palliative relief, while jobs remained scarce.
The report adds: “In this respect the CIPD is also concerned by the Liberal Democrat manifesto proposal to pay the same rate of National Minimum Wage to all workers aged 16 and over (apart from apprentices).
“It makes little sense to spend taxpayers’ money providing young people with short-term work experience or training placements while at the same time making it more expensive for employers to hire them in the normal way.”