Commenting on the latest Office for National Statistics labour market statistics released today, Mark Beatson, chief economist at the CIPD, said: “Today’s figures are modest good news for the labour market with increased employment and a small reduction in the headline measure of unemployment. We can expect some variation in the figures from month to month, but faster economic growth in the second quarter of this year has fed through into more jobs. Forward-looking measures, such as our summer 2013 Labour Market Outlook survey, suggest we should see further increases in employment during the summer and autumn.
“Increasing labour supply means it is likely that unemployment falls slowly in the short-term. The extent to which further economic growth will be possible without triggering a rise in interest rates will depend on how successful the economy is at getting young people and the long-term unemployed into work. If this does not happen, we could see competition for the right people pushing wages and costs up while unemployment remains high.
“The number of 16 to 24 year olds unemployed rose by 15,000 over the quarter to 973,000. With more than 300,000 school leavers due to collect their exam results tomorrow, it’s crunch time for many young people. Data released today by the Confederation of British Industry and Pearson, highlights that the lack of work experience is a real issue – with 70 per cent of employed young people highlighting that they “lacked relevant work experience”. For many, this is making the prospect of finding work an impossible task and highlights the need for employers to engage with this issue. The CIPD Learning to Work programme is seeking to increase the number of access routes being offered to young people by employers, and provides guidance on implementing high quality work experience opportunities, apprenticeships and internships. We are also working with the Education and Employers Taskforce on Inspiring the Future – an initiative to get HR professionals to volunteer to go into schools to help young people to become more work ready. Over the summer, CIPD volunteers have engaged with more than 2,000 young people across the country, providing CV advice and mock interviews.
“The number of people unemployed for over a year also increased by 7,000 over the quarter to 909,000. It usually takes time falling total unemployment to feed through into falling long-term unemployment but we should not be complacent. Our spring 2013 Labour Market Outlook survey showed that many employers think the long-term unemployed lack skills and recent experience. The Work Programme and other assistance have a vital role to play in helping the long-term unemployed compete for the jobs available and there is a need to improve outcomes based on early evaluation of their impact. Looking ahead, the introduction of Universal Credit will be a major change. While it potentially improves the incentives to find work, many long-term unemployed are bound to be worried about the risk that teething troubles with its implementation will leave them out of pocket if they do find work. Government needs to pay careful attention to implementation and provide early reassurance that success in finding a job will not be accompanied by problems in accessing in-work benefits”.