Responding to today’s ONS figures, Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, comments:

“The latest labour market statistics continue to send out positive signals about the underlying state of the UK jobs market. Employment levels have seen another sharp monthly increase, unemployment is down and there are record-breaking job vacancies.

“However, a closer look at the ONS figures shows that virtually all the extra jobs since the onset of the pandemic have been for temporary staff (up by 136,000 or 9%). Against an anecdotal backdrop of rising labour shortages, the proportion of the workforce in temporary employment that would like a permanent job has risen sharply during the same period (up by 134,000 or 34%).

Overall, the number of temporary workers in employment has risen to a five-year high (1.36 million) and around a third (32%) of those temporary workers would like a permanent job.

Davies continues: 

“The sharp increase in temporary employment suggests that there’s more employers can do to address rising labour shortages. Candidates want more than a job; they also want some level of security after such an uncertain period. Rather than sitting on the fence, we need employers to bite the bullet and make more permanent hires where they can, to give candidates confidence and to fill the huge number of vacancies out there.

“As well as creating more permanent roles, employers should consider a range of tactics to make their roles more attractive to candidates. For example, through improved pay and working conditions and flexible working options. 

“The imminent closure of the furlough scheme also offers a timely reminder to employers that they need to be prepared to train new recruits who have been furloughed to ensure people who might not have been working for many months have the skills and confidence for their new jobs. This will also be particularly important for younger workers who have been adversely affected by the pandemic and need early chances to get their working lives off on the right foot.”

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