Today the ONS has issued their latest labour market figures, showing the UK workforce (all in employment) almost static this quarter – at 32,397 in May to July 2018 it was just 3k (0.0%) higher than the previous quarter, but 261k (0.8%) higher than the same period last year. Self-employment and temporary employment both decreased during the last quarter, however in contrast permanent employment increased and therefore it is permanent which has driven the small increase in the UK workforce.
Despite the unemployment rate being the lowest since 1974, the number of job vacancies continues to be high at 833k, which is an increase of 44k compared to the same period last year. ONS figures also show UK wages increased by almost 3% during the last quarter, meaning that employers are paying more to attract the talent and skills they need for their businesses. In the current labour market, it seem that employers are struggling to fill their roles (judging by the record number of job vacancies) which is not surprising given the widely reported skills shortages in some sectors. Businesses may need to rethink how to attract the candidates they need, and whilst wages are clearly an important factor, flexible working practices are always near the top of job-seekers’ wish-lists. Firms might also want to consider the advantages of having a contingent workforce which they can call on an as-needs basis, bringing flexibility for both UK plc and workers themselves.