In response to the latest ONS labour market statistics, Jon Boys, labour market economist for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, comments:

"Unemployment has continued its ominous ascent to 5%, but for the moment it’s being kept in check by the furlough scheme. Official forecasts expect it to peak just below 8% but the risks of higher levels of job losses are heightened without a further extension of the furlough scheme to at least the end of June. 

“It’s worth remembering that redundancies are not an easy or cheap option for businesses, costing around £11, 000 per individual. Many of these jobs stand to be viable again in just a few months' time, which is why the CIPD is calling for the furlough scheme to be extended until at least the end of June. This would help to protect viable jobs from a period of temporary disruption while the vaccine is rolled out and buy time for the start of economic recovery. It is also important that the furlough scheme is linked to support for training for workers who are furloughed or working reduced hours.

“Given the continuing rise in youth unemployment, the Government will need to consider stronger incentives for employers to take on young apprentices aged between 16-24 and to boost the support to employers and marketing of the Kickstart scheme.” 

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