Unemployment SOS

Posted on 12 May 2010 by The Manufacturer

Manufacturing heartlands still struggle with the highest unemployment rates in the UK as the Office for National Statistics release Q1 figures for 2010.

New ONS figures, released May 12, show the Yorkshire and Humber area being worst affected by unemployment with jobless figures hitting 258,000. A rise of 18,000 in the three months up to March. Overall the ONS has reported the worst unemployment figures in 15 years for the UK with a total of 2.51million out of work. Newly installed as Lord Chancellor with the change of government, Kenneth Clarke will remember such figures well from his last experience in government.

For manufacturing growth the worrying aspect of the latest ONS statistics lies in the dramatic hit taken by workers in the 35-49 age bracket. Ross Walker, economist at Royal Bank of Scotland, highlighted the threat that this held for industry of losing valuable workers who had “acquired on- the-job skills”. For an industry looking for renaissance under the new government and with a need to invest in ongoing professional skills development this trend poses a worrying challenge.

Another section of the population which continued to be badly affected were 16-24 year olds. Unemployment among these young people now totals 941,000. A rise of 18,000 on the previous quarter. In combination with a decline in job vacancies this points towards a potential skills and workforce deficit which does not tally with aspirations to lead in advanced manufacturing technologies.

Dr John Philpott, chief economic advisor at the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) has termed the new statistics as “dire” saying that George Osborne’s recent “rhetoric to ‘get Britain working’ will have to meet reality”. Dr Philpott’s particular concern was with the record number of economically inactive citizens recorded. These are people who are out of work and not seeking employment and their numbers have risen by 100,000 over the last quarter to hit 8.2 million.

CIPD has called said the unemployment situation is a clear SOS to the new government who must balance deficit reduction with an urgent requirement to regenerate industry growth and support the creation of jobs in the most needy areas.