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Skills must remain the focus as labour market cools

The UK’s unemployment rate has risen to its highest for almost a year as vacancies continued to shrink, according to official figures.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show the jobless rate increased to 4.3% between January and March, the highest since May to July last year.

The number of vacancies also slowed meaning more unemployed people are competing for the same jobs.

Jane Gratton, Deputy Director Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Employers across the UK will welcome further signs that the labour market is cooling, but more must be done to ensure they can access the skills they need.

“Today’s data chimes with the picture we’re hearing from businesses. Our latest survey showed recruitment conditions eased in Q1 with fewer firms facing difficulties hiring.

“But significant challenges and pressures remain. Competition for skills, increased wage costs and high interest rates continue to ramp up pressure on businesses and act as a drag on investment and growth.

“More needs to be done to stabilise costs and bring people back into the workforce. While flexible and inclusive workplaces can help employers attract and retain skilled people, businesses will need support to increase their investment in workplace training if we are to tackle ongoing skills shortages.

“We need to see action from politicians to break down the barriers to work for everyone. The number of people outside the workforce because of health issues remains a particular concern.

“Getting the strong economic growth we all want to see will only be possible when the skills and workplace challenges are resolved.”

More detail on the latest ONS labour market data can be found here.

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