The Labour Market statistics released today show an overwhelmingly positive picture. Yet hidden in these rising employment figures are groups that are not seeing the positive impact of growth. As Catherine Sermon, Employability Director at Business in the Community, comments:
Today’s statistics show increasing employment, decreasing unemployment and a long-awaited return to the low unemployment rate of 6.5% last seen in 2008. Economic recovery and business growth, alongside many of the programmes and initiatives implemented by our business members and celebrated through our recent Responsible Business Awards, are contributing to a much more vibrant labour market.
However, behind the positive numbers are individuals facing significant barriers to work who are still not experiencing this upturn. 749,000 people have been unemployed for more than one year and 415,000 unemployed for over two years, many of whom will find it hard to move away from entrenched unemployment.
Last week, HRH The Prince of Wales highlighted the challenges facing ex-servicemen and women transitioning into civilian life and seeking work. Many will successfully make this transition, others will struggle – some may be wounded, a small but consistent body will find themselves homeless, whilst criminal convictions either received as military convictions during service or afterwards pose significant challenges for those seeking work.
Without targeted support from employers not just to enter work, but to successfully stay in long-term employment, many people facing these complex barriers may not have the chance to benefit from the growth we see today. Looking beyond their supply chains and sector, employers can build partnerships and programmes that will reduce social exclusion and bring new talent into their businesses.
We should definitely celebrate that unemployment has fallen by 383,000 since last year. But businesses and Government must not forget the individuals who, without support to overcome the barriers they face, may not succeed in accessing sustained employment, however high the employment rate.
Business can support people to gain employment by reviewing their recruitment policies to make their jobs accessible to all and through partnerships which create opportunities for unemployed people to gain experience and access work. Whatever their age, gender, race or background, routes into employment should be accessible to people from disadvantaged groups.