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Sunday 19th September 2021

One million jobs to fill but are they the ‘wrong’ kind of jobs?

A record of over one million job vacancies have gone unfilled in the UK in the three months leading to August, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Job vacancies have reached over one million for the first time since 2001, and unemployment fell to 4.6% in the three months to July.

The wrong kind of jobs?

The jobs boom continued in August, with payroll employment up by 241,000 on the month to match pre-pandemic levels, according to data from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

But Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown says that the jobs feeding into the market might be the ‘wrong’ kind of jobs, with a lack of workers to match with them

“There are over a million job vacancies washing around the UK, which sounds like exactly the right time to be coming off furlough and plunging back into the jobs market,” she says.

“The trouble is that they’re the wrong jobs, which spells trouble for both jobseekers and businesses.

“For these job hunters, it’s going to come as no comfort to learn that there are still actually fewer jobs in the economy than there were back in December 2019: this isn’t a boom time for jobs it’s a shortage of people to do them.”

Staff shortages

The ONS said the employment rate rose to 75.2%. However, Coles adds that the industry with most vacancies, with 75.4% to 57,600 jobs, was the accommodation and food sector.

She says: “Part of the problem with both is that the usual employees don’t want to work there anymore, and there aren’t enormous numbers of jobs seekers with the skills or the inclination to take the work on.”

Staff shortages can be seen:

  • in transport firms that had to boost wages dramatically overnight to get drivers into the business
  • retail companies
  • health and care companies facing a huge squeeze in filling shifts, and are struggling to keep up services for vulnerable people
  • accommodation and food companies that are running on empty

End of the furlough scheme

With the end of the furlough scheme, hundreds of thousands of people are now searching for new jobs.

The industries with the highest rates of furlough are:

  • air travel (51%)
  • travel and tour operators (46%)
  • photography (35%)
  • creative arts and entertainment (28%) 
  • clothes manufacturers (26%)

Kitty Ussher, chief economist at the Institute of Directors (IoD) said to the Financial Times: “The economy is now well-prepared for the end of furlough. The challenge for government is to put its money where its mouth is and demonstrate in practice how we can fill vacancies by investing in our domestic workforce in a post-Brexit world.”

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Dana Raer

Dana is a reporter at Mouthy Money, having previously worked for Times Money Mentor and the BBC.

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