The latest Labour Market Statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has suggested that the post-pandemic boom in vacancies may have passed. But while the decline may also have been due to seasonal factors, Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) notes that employers are still faced with a challenge when it comes to finding the skills they need.
“This decrease in demand doesn’t however, mean that the skills shortages are becoming less challenging, with the unemployment rate still lower than pre-Covid levels,” she says. “With a continued limited availability of job seekers, employers will struggle to source the highly skilled resources they need – a problem which cannot be addressed without access to a truly global and flexible workforce.”
Bowers notes that APSCo have already called on the new Prime Minister to prioritise the employment and skills agenda for the UK including ensuring global trade deals are negotiated to include skills, the workforce and the mutual recognition of services and professional qualifications as well as tariffs and goods. The simplification of the process by which self-employed contractors obtain visas is also needed in a skill short economy.
“What is perhaps more alarming from the latest ONS figures, though, is the clear impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the ageing population,” says Bowers. “With record high levels of over-65’s in part-time employment in Q2 this year, it appears that rising energy costs and inflation are driving more people back into work. The cost-of-living crisis isn’t, however, inflating salaries, with the ONS revealing that total pay between May and July 2022 – when adjusted for inflation – fell 2.6 per cent. This disparity between the rise in inflation and salaries will only add to the skills struggles of the UK and won’t support economic growth on the scale that’s needed across the country.”