The latest figures from the ONS showed that the unemployment rate has crept to 3.8 per cent but that there are still more than one million job vacancies in the UK economy which is further supported by the data gathered in our recent Quarterly Economic Survey.
Louise Wall, chief executive of the Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce, said: “Businesses will be concerned that the unemployment rate has risen slightly, and that concern will only be heightened because of the unprecedented levels of vacancies”.
“We have never known a time like it where we have businesses saying that they have orders, and they have the demand but they cannot get the people to fill these posts to meet that demand. This is causing a huge drag on growth both locally and nationally.”
“The Chambers of Commerce has been making the case on this matter for months and know that if our economy is going to get back to growth, we must address the skills challenges here in the UK. Our Chamber is leading the Local Skills Improvement Plan, with the sole aim of putting business at the heart of the skills agenda.”
“It is absolutely fundamental that we solve this problem for the long term but, equally, there is a short-term crisis that needs to be fixed.”
Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The Government needs to fix the people problem in the economy if it is to have any hope of boosting growth.
“But despite the latest fall of 47,000 in overall vacancies, the total number is still well over 1m.
“These unfilled jobs are a drag anchor on firms, preventing them from fulfilling orders and taking on new work. People shortages are also, inevitably, feeding into upward pressure on wage demands, as seen by private sector pay growth of 6.9%. This remains a big concern for the Bank of England and a chief reason for the continuing rise in interest rates.
“The Government and employers need to work together to shift the dynamics on vacancies. While employers can do more to make workplaces more accessible and flexible, the Government must quickly put in place its Spring Budget childcare reforms.
“It also needs to make sure there is enough high-quality supply to meet demand, and that people are supported back into work.
“When firms cannot recruit and train from the local labour market, and where national shortages are crippling sectors of the economy, they must have access to skills and labour from outside the UK. We need a pragmatic approach to immigration policy – that ensures the Shortage Occupations List accurately reflects the reality on the ground.”