New analysis shows jobs and vacancies divide

New analysis highlights that, amid skills shortages in some sectors and regions, many unemployed people are struggling to find work.

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The number of jobseekers chasing every vacancy has nearly doubled since March 2020 despite skills shortages and a resurgent jobs market, according to a new report, which calls for more support for jobseekers, including better childcare support.

The analysis by jobs search engine Adzuna and the Institute for Employment Studies [IES] shows there were 1.2 claimants per job in March 2020 and that this has risen to 2.2 claimants per job this month.

This is despite vacancies this month having reportedly hit their highest levels since records began, with more than a million jobs now open.  Over three hundred thousand new job adverts were placed in the last week alone, says the IES. It says this is due to a combination of ‘pandemic’ jobs – for instance, in warehousing, logistics, IT and public services and strong bouncebacks in hospitality, sales, construction and manufacturing.

However,  the analysis shows that there are sharp differences in the employment situation across the country, with inequalities pre-dating Covid. In 30 local areas, the research shows that there are more than 10 unemployed claimants chasing every vacancy while in nearly a hundred places – a quarter of all areas – there are more than five unemployed claimants chasing each job.

The areas with the highest numbers of claimants per vacancy are, says the report,  often those areas that were most disadvantaged before the crisis began – dominated by ex-industrial areas in the north of England, Welsh Valleys and central belt of Scotland; coastal areas, particularly across eastern England; inner city areas in the Midlands, North and especially London; and Northern Ireland.  So-called ‘Red Wall’ areas also continue to fare worse – with 3.4 unemployed people per vacancy, compared with 2.1 in the rest of the country, according to the analysis.

Mismatch between available jobs and candidates

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, says: “The last three months have been transformative for the UK jobs market. Employers are gaining in confidence as the economy reopens and more than a million jobs are on offer, with sectors like Tech, Trade & Construction and Logistics & Warehousing leading the way.

“But there is still work to do. On the one hand, vacancy levels are back at a pre-pandemic peak. But on the other hand, there are still significantly more claimants chasing every job than before the pandemic, with more than eight jobseekers per job in over 40 local authorities. This brings an underlying concern for the UK jobs market into sharp focus – many of the people currently out of work aren’t matching up to the jobs on offer, despite an acute talent shortage. This means many jobs are lying unfilled and accumulating, inflating overall hiring volumes. Some pockets of the UK including London, Northern Ireland, and other ex-industrial, coastal and inner city areas are still struggling against high local unemployment levels.”

He called for more retraining,  better childcare support and regular, flexible hours as well as higher wages in sectors such as hospitality to encourage more people back to the jobs market. The report also calls for more action from government to help employers to fill their vacancies and the unemployed to take them up – including by getting Jobcentre Plus back up and running and by co-funding retraining support in shortage sectors.  It also calls on employers not to overlook the unemployed – and to look at how they design their jobs, advertise and recruit.

Tony Wilson, Director of the IES, called for urgent action to prevent labour shortages, higher inflation and long-term unemployment next year.

Employer discrimination

Meanwhile, a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests that second-generation African, Caribbean and Asian people in the UK are being held back in the jobs market due to employer discrimination. While people from these backgrounds whose parents emigrated to Britain are far more likely to get a university degree than white British peers, they face much higher unemployment rates, says the report which shows that more than 50% of second-generation Indians and 35% of second-generation Pakistanis and Bangladeshis held university degrees, compared with 26% of white people.

The report’s author Lucinda Platt, a professor at the London School of Economics, said: “The experiences of people from ethnic minorities who have grown up in the UK are different and complex,” adding: “We should celebrate their remarkable success in education, but ask hard questions about why this does not translate into equal success in the world of work.”

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