Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show record numbers of people in work. As work patterns are changing we are seeing a growth in non-traditional employment that is set to continue. Looking at today’s labour market statistics we note that temporary employment has risen by 54k (+3.5%) quarter on quarter. Given that the UK has had a tight labour market for some time with skills shortages in a number of sectors, it is possible that the increase in temporary employment is because employers are unable to source the permanent skills and talent they need. Additionally, 44% of the increase in temporary employment is due to people being temporary as they embark on training, which could include people in apprenticeships. Despite the total number of new apprenticeship starts falling this academic year (as a result of widespread criticism and confusion regarding the apprenticeship levy) there have nevertheless been 206k new apprenticeships this academic year, which are likely to contribute to the increase in temporary employment.
It is pleasing to see that permanent employment is also up which indicates a growing confidence in the economy with businesses increasing their headcount. However, self-employment has fallen year on year, particularly amongst those working full-time hours on a self-employed basis (-3.7%), but there has been an increase (+6.4%) in people undertaking part-time self-employed roles. The increase in part-time self-employment is likely due to people undertaking extra roles to supplement other work, and those choosing to stop working fulltime in favour of a portfolio of part-time roles that give them the flexibility they want.
Unfortunately, unemployment has increased both quarter on quarter (+11k) and year on year (+24k) amongst those aged 50+. It is too early to judge how significant this trend might be, but it could be a concern if it is driven by peoples skills becoming outdated. We know that the labour market needs to adjust to technological change, such as AI and automation, and the skills available in the workforce needs to keep pace with that.