What skills shortage? ONS says unemployment is down

While much has been said about the so-called ‘skills shortage’ strangling the employment sector, data from the Office for National Statistics says otherwise.

Whether you’re traditionally employed or you work for yourself as a freelancer or umbrella company contractor, the truth is that the last three months to July have seen the number of Brits actually in employment increase by a substantial margin – or at least that’s what the ONS said recently. Official records say that the quarter saw unemployment drop to a quite low 6.2 per cent, which is the lowest it’s been since before the 2008 credit crisis.

Only a bit over 2 million Brits are now still out of work as of the end of July, the ONS says, which represents an additional 146,000 Brits returning to work from the last time the unemployment rate was measured. This is of course excellent news for just about everyone, though the ONS did say it was concerned about the still uncomfortably high number of younger Brits that have been struggling to find employment; data says that there are still some 747,000 Brits between the ages of 16 and 24 that are going without work.

If anything this could be where the skills shortage is actually having an effect on employment efforts, if you ask me. The one thing that’s characterised this problem – at least from my point of view – is the lack of prospective employees that are actually equipped with the skills to take on the roles that are most needed. This has led to these crucial positions going unfilled, and has also been why freelancers and contract workers with the requisite skills have been so much in demand as of late.

Of course eventually demand for workers will eventually outstrip the supply of qualified contractors, and that means the employment sector will have to find a different solution. With more than 700,000 young Brits just champing at the bit to gain employment, it might be time to expand the UK’s apprenticeship programmes in order to make sure our graduates have the skills they need to compete in the current employment marketplace. It’s either that or we’re likely to see many of these jobs outsourced overseas – and we definitely don’t want that, do we? I know I don’t!

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