Responding to the latest labour market data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) comments:
“The continued decline in vacancies is a trend that is perhaps to be expected, however, the fact that these levels have fallen below the one million mark for the first time since July 2021 is more significant. This shows that the jobs market is continuing to stabilise, rather than decline on a worrying level. In fact, the latest quarterly comparisons of growth from January to March 2020 show that the demand for staff is still up in skill-short sectors including education, human health & social work and professional scientific & technical services.
“The record fall in self-employment jobs is, however, more of a concern. Our insight and that of our members suggest that demand for temporary resources is not depleting, but rather the ability to source these individuals is proving difficult. A combination of Off Payroll, Brexit and the pandemic has significantly reduced the access to global contract workers and the self-employed for UK businesses. With skills short sectors that rely on STEM talent still reporting above pandemic levels of demand, temporary workers will play a pivotal role in keeping operations moving. However, the UK’s employment legislation landscape doesn’t support this demand.
“If the economy is to be given the boost it needs to continue to avoid a deep recession, we need a globally mobile talent pool that allows firms to better compete for international contract talent. That includes amending visa restrictions during the Government’s ongoing trade deal discussions to provide simple to obtain visas for the self-employed and contract workers similar to those available in Denmark and Germany.
“The UK remains resilient, but the labour market often acts as a bellwether for wider trends. If vacancies are going unfilled and companies cannot hire the temporary resources they need, the impact will soon be felt across the economy. The recruitment market needs to be strengthened, but that will require dedication from Government officials and influencers to drive real change quickly.”