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ONS job vacancy statistics confirm recruitment difficulties

The number of job vacancies in the UK surpassed pre-pandemic levels in the three months to June, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.

The ONS said there were 862,000 jobs on offer between April and June, 77,500 higher than the first three months of 2020. The rise was driven by vacancies in hospitality and retailing.

The number of people on payrolls also grew in June, showing the biggest rise since the start of the pandemic. It increased by 356,000 in June to 28.9 million.

There was a sharp increase in payrolls in both the food and accommodation sectors as more people returned to work, following a further easing of COVID restrictions in England during May that allowed the hospitality industry to reopen.

British Chambers of Commerce Head of Economics, Suren Thiru, said: “The significant rise in payroll employment suggests that UK jobs market continued to improve as the economy gradually reopened.  

“Surging demand for labour amid the economy unlocking, the rapid vaccine rollout and continued Government support helped drive higher payroll employment in June, despite the delay to the end of the roadmap. 

“The rise in vacancies confirms the ongoing struggle to hire staff. The recruitment difficulties faced by firms go well beyond temporary bottlenecks and with many facing an increasing skills gap, staff shortages may drag on any recovery.  

“The July reopening will further boost labour demand. However, the UK jobs market is moving into a more turbulent period with unemployment likely to drift moderately higher in the near term as the furlough scheme winds down and those who stopped looking for work during covid return as restrictions end. 

“More needs to be done to ensure businesses have access to skills when these can’t be recruited locally, including access to rapid and agile training and re-skilling opportunities for adults in the workforce and a more flexible immigration system which allows firms to access the high and low skilled workers they need.”

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