With the release of the latest ONS statistics on the labour market yesterday, it’s been particularly interesting to reflect on the market position as the year draws to a close. While we can't always blame the British weather, there has been no question that unreliable nature of our weather has had dramatic impacts across most sectors from the built environment, hospitality, retail and beyond but this cannot be sole reason for the downfall of our faltering economy. Inflation has pressurised the economy and now interest rates are testing businesses and consumers alike, but the latest workforce figures have increased to a record 36.8 million.
It is clear a plethora of opportunities are still being created across the UK, though marginally down from the last quarter. Job vacancies hover just beneath a million and the disparity between skill set and the talent available is more prevalent than ever and this factor is slowing down the fulfilment of these vacancies. As we still ride the aftermath of pandemic era, there needs to be a combined effort from employers and the government alike to bridge this gap and get the economy on a path of growth once again.
The lack of broad investment in education and upskilling by employers has plateaued productivity and we are left with a work force that doesn’t have the necessary skills required to advance output and their careers. Businesses need to re-energise their focus on upskilling their employees to broaden their capabilities. Encouraging an aspirational mindset and a desire to progress will keep businesses buoyant and surging forward.
The recent announcement of the almost £30m investment in tech, life sciences, renewables, housing and infrastructure goes some way to addressing this. However, the government departments need to work more cohesively, bringing education and upskilling closer together to empower people for the benefit of themselves and the wider economy.
Without significant changes, the stagnation of business growth will become more prevalent in 2024 and beyond.