I recently read an interesting Infographic on the UK labour market, published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) – see web-link below.

It reported 60 people per job applied (in the last 12 months in the UK?) for low skilled or unskilled vacancies, up from 50 last year.

It also reported 20 people per job applied for high skilled (how defined?) vacancies, up from 10 people last year.

In addition, it reported only 40% of job applicants were (considered by employers/recruiters as) suitable for the roles advertised, whether low or high skilled roles.

A few observations:

1. If there is a ratio of 60:1 for low & unskilled applicants to jobs, clearly that’s a serious structural problem in the UK labour market (even ignoring any location mismatches). And it ignores the NEETs – those opting out of employment, education or training. Probably what voters need clarifying is whether that ratio is now so high because:

(a) such jobs are rapidly disappearing (e.g. blue, pink and white collar jobs becoming automated, offshored, or replaced by postgraduate research jobs instead),

(b) poorly-conceived and poorly-designed EU employment law changes are encouraging UK employers not to create more low-skilled jobs,

(c) there are rising numbers of low-skilled immigrants now applying for the low and unskilled jobs that are being bid down to minimum wage, due to the oversupply of such labour.

Or instead, it is some combination of all three things, creating a ‘perfect storm’ of conditions.  To the extent that (c) applies, what will the immigrants do if they cannot get work in the UK, where there is free NHS healthcare, free education, benign immigration status checks and a comparatively favourable welfare system?

2. With further expected funding cut-backs in secondary, further and higher education, the above three statistics are likely to worsen further.

3. If only 40% of recent job applicants really are suitable for the roles advertised, how can the UK education system provide better outputs, to raise this to say 80%? Are jobs being created at such a rate in new fields, that the education and training system simply cannot adjust its curriculum fast enough? Is the careers advisory service in schools and other educational institutions still fit for purpose?

And, if only 40% of applicants really are suitable, this implies that a serious number of job applicants either need to retrain, upskill, or change their attitudes and behaviours to improve their suitability. Do they realise this?