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UK Unemployment

Labour Market Statistics

June 14 2022 - The unemployment rate stands at 3.8%, 0.2% lower than the previous quarter and 0.1% lower than the pre-pandemic level. 32.707 million people were in work in the February 2022 to April 2022 quarter according to the labour force survey (LFS). This was 533,000 more than the same quarter last year and 177,000 more than the previous quarter.

The working age employment rate was 75.6% compared with 75.4% in the previous quarter but 0.9% lower than the pre-pandemic level

ILO-defined unemployment in the February 2022 to April 2022 quarter was estimated at 1,300 million (3.8%) - down by 356,000 on last year and down by 47,000 on the quarter.

Average wages, including bonuses rose by 6.8% and 4.2% excluding bonuses over the year. Taking inflation into account, these increases were equivalent to +0.4% and -2.2% in real value.

Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at APSCo commented:

"The rise in job numbers and decline in available talent has been a topic of conversation with limited action for far too long. There can be no doubt that there simply arenít enough people to fill the skills gaps in the country and economic forecasts are already beginning to be hit as a result of this. Despite the Governmentís commitment to Levelling Up the UKís skills, action has been limited - even the much-awaited Employment Bill has seemingly been shelved for now.

"The skills agenda has fallen down the priority list for the Government but this needs to be rectified with some urgency. It may not be a simple problem to address but thereís a lot that can be implemented to alleviate some of the pressure on the labour market at this critical time. Ensuring global trade discussions maximise the opportunity to agree appropriate services trade deals to allow the UK to efficiently access international labour markets is one such issue that, as of yet, hasnít been adequately resolved. Agreeing standards as part of the Data Reform Bill to build frictionless, cyber-secure transfer of data between countries will also speed up global hiring processes that are currently hindering our access to global resources.

"The demand for talent is showing no sign of slowing. Indeed, APSCoís own Recruitment Trends research report showed an uptick in vacancies in May. The data, provided by the global leader in software for the staffing industry, Bullhorn, revealed that contractor jobs spiked 34% between May 2021 and May 2022, while permanent roles increased 25% year-on-year. Month-on-month comparisons also showed an uptick in job numbers between April and May 2022, up 16% for permanent and 19% for contract roles. The UKís post-Brexit, Covid recovery will continue to be in jeopardy if these numbers continue on this trajectory unless change happens swiftly."

Jim Sykes, Sector Managing Director, Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences and Professional Services at AMS commented:

"With the skills gap continuing to widen and available talent levels dwindling, new and innovative talent acquisition strategies are constantly being turned to as a means of beating the competition for the best staff. While this is certainly important, Iíd argue that far too many firms are focusing the majority of their attention on outward candidate attraction and ignoring their current resources - which will only exacerbate the problem. With the ONS also reporting last month that jobs had surpassed the number of people unemployed, staff are arguably ripe for the picking of competitors. Identifying where internal mobility opportunities lie in order to move staff across the business and boost retention rates will help alleviate some of the pressures on resourcing teams.

"Itís important to also stress that reducing employee turnover should be a strategic focus for the boardroom, not just the HR leadership team. Employee turnover involves significant wage inflation as external hires will nearly always come at a premium unless companies are doing a good job of hiring for potential over job-readiness. And with employee turnover there will nearly always be a lag before a new person is in a role, leaving teams under-resourced and productivity declining. So, naturally, employers need to do a far better job of developing and retaining existing talent to both aid retention and help deliver against growing workloads - and encouraging a greater level of internal mobility is key to this aim.

"While there is no quick fix for the UKís skills shortage, opening positions up internally as well as implementing upskilling or reskilling programmes for current staff will boost your retention rates in the long term. A lack of career opportunity is regularly cited as the reason that people leave their current employer so ensuring companies are looking at their internal employee population will have a swift impact on skills deficits.

"What is certain is that, as it stands, employers arenít doing all they can to maximise internal hiring opportunities and a new approach to internal hiring is needed, one that includes new technologies that give organisations a holistic view of the skills within the business and can proactively help to match existing talent to new internal opportunities. We need to change our corporate cultures so that managers are encouraged or rewarded to develop and progress their existing talent, not just look externally. And we need to allow talent acquisition teams to proactively approach internal talent for roles in the same way that we would do for external talent."

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