Employment remains at record high

The UK’s employment rate has remained at record levels, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics, while unemployment also fell.


ONS figures, released this morning, reveal UK unemployment fell by 37,000 to 1.6m in the quarter to September, while the unemployment rate fell to 4.8%.


The number of people in employment increased by 49,000, with the total number of people in jobs remaining at a record high of 31.8m.


Commenting on the figures, John Salt, group sales director at job board totaljobs, said it is positive to see unemployment falling defying expert predictions following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union in June.


“Business confidence has clearly remained strong in the face of plenty of challenges, and this bodes well for the future.

“This confidence is something we’ve seen reflected in our own statistics, with the Totaljobs Employment Index revealing that job postings on the totaljobs website were up 7% year-on-year in October.”


Meanwhile Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of job board CV-Library, called the figures a positive indication that the UK’s labour market did not fall victim to a seasonal summer slowdown this year, especially due to the uncertainty around the impact of the Brexit vote on UK jobs.


“With formal negotiations around the UK’s intention to leave the EU not taking place until early next year, it’s vital that we focus on the fact that the current labour market is performing well and that organisations are continuing to invest in their current and future workforces.”


According to Karen Jones, HR director at housebuilder Redrow, with employment levels on the rise, the construction sector in particular comments currently has vacancies that are “crying out to be filled”, adding this number has jumped significantly both on an annual and a quarterly basis.


“This trend is yet another indicator of the widening skills gap which is challenging the sector. We at Redrow have for some time now been doing everything we can to tackle this, including through our Undergraduate and Graduate Programmes and our ongoing campaign to target women school leavers to highlight the opportunities that await them in a career in construction.

“What we need now is a real push from the entire housebuilding industry to tackle the skills shortage.”


The Recruitment & Employment Confederation director of policy Tom Hadley says it appears the UK economy seems to have taken the shock of June’s EU referendum result in its stride so far.


“Our Report on Jobs data also shows employers are getting on with business as usual, with permanent placements in growth, now for three consecutive months after dipping into decline in June and July. Although the overall picture looks positive, this is the first set of data from the ONS collected after the vote to leave the EU – so we are yet to see longer-term effects.

“Our jobs data shows 23% of businesses plan to take on more permanent staff in the next three months. A further drop in the unemployment rate means the talent pool employers rely on is rapidly shrinking. The government needs to pay attention to skills shortages before they reach crisis point. We will continue to need workers from overseas in a range of sectors, from engineering to healthcare, and must ensure immigration policies reflect immediate labour market needs.”


Gerwyn Davies, labour market adviser at the CIPD, a professional body for HR and people development, warns while the figures show a continuation of recent trends, they mask some important changes.


“The growth in the number of EU nationals in employment has slowed to a trickle during the past quarter following previously strong growth; which could be the first tentative sign that the UK’s vote to leave the EU is already starting to stem the supply of EU migrant labour, before any formal restrictions are introduced as a result of the UK’s eventual exit from the EU. Employers therefore need to respond now by investing more in skills and reviewing their resourcing channels and retention methods to offset the risk of looming labour shortages.”