Permanent roles, temporary jobs, apprenticeships and graduate opportunities are all set to increase over the next year. More than two fifths (43%) of firms expect their workforce to be bigger in 2016: firms across the country are supporting people through employment and putting money in pockets to save or spend. Companies in the North East of England are leading the trend, with a balance of +43% firms expecting to add jobs.
The jobs growth of the past few years has been good for young and old:
- Employment of people aged 50–64 increased by 234,000 in the past year, growing more than any other age group.
- At the other end of the scale, our survey reveals that job opportunities for 16–24 year olds will continue to open up in 2016. Overall, over half of firms (62%) plan to hire young people in the next year.
- In larger firms, the vast majority (93%) will look to take on 16–24 year olds,
- while two fifths (42%) of smaller firms expect job opportunities for that cohort to be created.
Businesses of all sizes are continuing to support individuals through the transition from education to employment.
But the good news on jobs growth sits alongside growing concern about skills in the UK’s labour market. For the second year in a row, the low levels of skills have been identified as the top challenge for future competitiveness. Supporting people to gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to enter and progress in the workplace is one the critical roles of UK businesses has to play – these results just emphasise how important that role is.
And businesses will miss out if they don’t access the widest possible pool of talent available to them. Creating inclusive and engaging workplaces is in the interest of both the employer and employee – it gives firms a competitive edge and supports employee wellbeing.
Diversity is rightly on the agenda for UK firms but our survey reveals that the majority of firms (63%) see obstacles to greater workforce diversity. Flexible working practices such as Shared Parental Leave have helped, but future progress requires collaboration between by government, business and the education sector to ensure that all the potential talent in the labour market can be unlocked.