With the latest ONS (Office for National Statistics) labour figures released today, it is comforting to see that the employment figure at 76.4% has remained consistent and even shows a tiny increase of 0.3% increase on 2019.
Since mid-March we’ve worked closely with the NHS, manufacturers and retailers to ensure they had enough key workers to cope with their huge demands, which of course provided some great job opportunities for those in travel, hospitality, sales and aviation who immediately lost their jobs early on in the pandemic. It was inspiring to see professionals from all industry backgrounds really willing and keen to help those in the front line and they truly made a difference.
Now whilst the pressure for recruiting key workers is calming slightly, and we hope it remains that way, we’re seeing other industries starting to pick up. We’re seeing increased activity within industrial, construction and housing as warehouses and build projects are re-opening, and a variety of permanent and contract opportunities within engineering and IT and digital, which is therefore keeping the employment rate consistent.
Of course, the support of the Government furlough scheme has played a welcome role in ensuring people remain employed, however as that comes to an end we may unfortunately see the unemployment rates increase. There are steps nonetheless that can be taken to support the rebuild of our economy as we all settle into our new normal.
We need to see less divergence between England, Wales and Scotland. As one of the UK’s leading specialist recruitment companies, we work with businesses throughout the UK and therefore have to be aware and apply to the different lockdown and economy rules. We want to continue to protect the vulnerable but carefully unlock the situation, and quickly, so we see more parallels inline with England as much as possible. Testing throughout the UK, not just pockets of areas, will be pivotal to the success of any economy rebuild. We’d like to see the antibody test more widely available, and the increased and effective use of the track and trace scheme to stop any potential spikes in its tracks. Successful testing and management of new cases will encourage confidence in the country, which will impact the wider economy.
The Government’s support for businesses must continue past October, which in turn will protect employment. A reduction in VAT, temporary reduction in corporation tax, underwriting trade / credit insurance, temporary reduction in income tax – these are just some options that could be introduced to really play a significant part in the rebuild. Build the economy first, pay off the debt later.
We also need to see investment in infrastructure projects, low carbon projects such the Hydrogen economy and wave power. We cannot continue to wait for years for decisions that will have a huge impact on the economy and create thousands of jobs. It is essential, for example, that we see the Government make a decision on the M4 relief alternative and quickly.
Times are still uncertain but there are clear and positive movements that can be made to ensure the UK’s economy can grow quickly - make the changes, reduce the financial and red tape burden and we will have a strong economy. There are some businesses that have been very resilient, but it needs strong cooperation to achieve the route back to economic prosperity.