Vacancies have soared to a record high as the economy continues to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but experts have warned a skills “mismatch” means there is still a “tricky autumn” ahead for workers in hospitality and starting out their careers.
The Office for National Statistics’ latest labour market figures showed there were an estimated 953,000 job vacancies between May and July this year, up 290,000 on the previous quarter and 168,000 than the quarter before the pandemic hit in 2020. Single-month vacancy estimates and Adzuna online job adverts also soared beyond one million for the first time, ONS statisticians said.
There was further encouraging news with the number of employees on payrolls rising to almost 29 million – though still lagging 200,000 behind pre-Covid levels, while the unemployment rate fell from 4.9 to 4.7 per cent.
But while job openings continue to appear during the economic recovery, not everyone could see a boost in opportunities, warned Matt Whittaker, chief executive of Pro Bono Economics, with a risk hospitality staff, young workers and those with low qualifications could miss out.
“The key thing here is a mismatch across the country and across sectors,” said Whittaker. “We’ve reopened the economy but because a lot of people are still working from home, city centres are pretty quiet and footfall is low so the cafes, the restaurants, the bars are just not seeing that pick up.
“So if you are someone who happens to be working in that sector in that part of the country then there is a risk that the wider economic rebound will pass you by. At the moment we’re not seeing the full weight of that because people are still on furlough but the clock is ticking and when that comes to an end it seems inevitable that there will be some spike in redundancies.