As ever, the latest labour market findings from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) offer good and bad news. Employment figures are steadily improving since the recession, but in the volatile stages of recovery not even the bulls are counting their chickens. May showed the steepest drop in permanent staff availability since November 1997, forcing all other metrics swiftly and markedly upwards.
Those who should welcome these statistics are job seekers, providing that they can distinguish themselves from the crowd in the competition for almost 200,000 new full-time jobs created in the last quarter. Young job seekers and graduates in particular have cause to be much more optimistic than they were in previous markets; this increase may, according to Gerwyn Davies, the CIPD’s Labour Market Adviser, be due to ‘growth in formal training schemes’ and the proliferate trend in employers to pay attention to their future talent pipeline and their desire to nurture home-grown talent. This is reflected in the metrics; the unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds has decreased by 1.3%, to 18.5%, continuing a trend from previous years (it decreased by 2% from 2012—2013). Thankfully this decrease is proving to be consistent, but it must be understood in context; whilst it is an impressive improvement from the all time high of 21.9%, when youth unemployment reached a shocking one million in the UK in November 2011, 18.5% is still much too far from zero for us to get comfortable.