Commenting on the ONS Labour Market Statistics (20th January 2016), Mark Beatson, Chief Economist at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, says: “Today’s figures show that jobs growth in the UK has recovered, with the employment rate at its highest level since at least 1971. Demand for labour is still high, as seen by record numbers of unfilled vacancies, and it’s positive to see the supply is still there to fill these jobs. Some of that supply is coming from other parts of the EU, but still the UK unemployment rate continues to fall nevertheless, now standing just above 5%.
“It’s encouraging to see unemployment falling fastest among the 18-24 age group, but important to note that unemployment has not fallen over the past year among the over-50s. This is partly because of increasing numbers of people in this age group, but it is also a reminder that older workers can find it especially difficult to find another job if they become unemployed. As the working population ages, it’s important that employers change their approach to workforce planning and open up their recruitment systems to much more diverse talent pools, as groups such as the over-50s can often bring as many unique skills and experience as those under 25. If we are to balance out employment at either end of the age spectrum, we need to see much greater efforts from government to ensure that those who want to keep working over the age of 50 have every chance to do so.
“Average earnings growth has also fallen to 2%, which is close to the underlying rate of pay growth that we’ve seen over the last few years. This is not surprising because the fundamental conditions required for a step change in pay growth are simply not there. Most employers still believe there are enough competent applicants out there to fill their vacancies, and, furthermore, productivity growth remains relatively weak. Conditions remain good for firms to invest in training and development and upgrading the skill content of jobs.”
Full press release on www.cipd.co.uk