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Labour market woes remain

The UK unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.6% in the three months to September, up from 3.5% in August, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy and the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The challenges facing businesses in the UK labour market remain very much the same.  We have a critical shortage of skills and labour that is damaging firms and holding back growth. 

“Once again, the data shows the number of job vacancies remains at record highs, adding to inflationary pressures.  

“With confidence waning as we enter recession, and the expectation of even tougher economic times ahead, we may see more recruitment freezes, job losses and business closures.   

“But the underlying problem is unaltered – unless we address the ongoing mismatch of skills available and business needs, this drag anchor on the economy will persist and hinder recovery.   

“Concerns are growing about the numbers of people who are leaving the labour market through long-term illness – as well as those choosing early retirement. This will damage opportunities for individuals and the economy.  

“The Government and employers must work together to solve the labour market conundrum.   We must look at ways to help people experiencing ill-health stay in work and to encourage skilled and experienced retirees to return to the workplace.   

“We need to remove barriers to work, by offering flexible workplaces, rapid re-training opportunities and better access to childcare and public transport.

“And, crucially, we need to invest more in the training and upskilling of everyone in the workplace so that we are ready to grasp new opportunities for growth. 

The Chancellor has an opportunity on Thursday to start fixing the labour supply problem in our economy. If he misses it, growth will remain hard to come by.” 

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