Responding to today’s ONS figures, Jonathan Boys, labour market economist for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, comments:

"This is an incredibly strong set of labour market figures. Unemployment isn’t quite at pre-pandemic levels but is heading in that direction fast. On some key metrics we are already back to pre-pandemic levels, notably vacancies and redundancies. The dramatic rise and fall of the redundancy rate suggest that the end of furlough will be a smooth transition that won’t result in too many job losses. Indeed, any anxiety over job losses has been replaced by a fear of skills shortages. These are biting hard in some sectors, notably hospitality which has a record number of job vacancies as businesses scramble to reopen hoping for a bumper summers trading.

Boys continues: “To fill vacancies and ensure a solid jobs recovery there should be a focus on better jobs, not just more jobs. Employers should look at job design and offer better terms including wages, training opportunities and benefits such as flexible working. Employers thinking longer-term might recognise that now there is a golden opportunity to invest in skills - especially apprenticeships for young people - to offset the rising threat of labour and skill shortages. Government has a role here and must reform the apprenticeship levy to make it fit for purpose ensuring it does what it set out to do – namely increase the volume of training taking place.” 

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