Falling unemployment, pre-pandemic level vacancies – But what will this all mean once furlough ends?

We are not currently offering Employment advice services. The following is for informational purposes only.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows us there were 862,000 vacancies available, for potential employees, from April to June 2021.

This is some 77,500 higher than roles available, pre-pandemic, from January to March 2020.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, recently asserted, about the economy: “We are bouncing back”.

Given such optimism, it’s not unreasonable to think we should be confident about the prospect of finding employment again. If the stats are favourable and the Chancellor is happy, then should we still feel cautious once furlough ends in September 2021?

What’s the media view on increasing vacancies?

Naturally, the buzz about the pre-pandemic rise in vacancies has been widely reported. However, it’s interesting to note sources like the BBC and The Big Issue each consider the lasting impact on young people.

The fear seems to be, once furlough ends, there will still be people left out in the cold, as potential employers are faced with a skills-gap and not enough suitable candidates to fill the roles.

That could be a big concern for people in the 16-24 age range, who may be actively seeking work – all at the same time – once they get their results, following the end of school, college or university.

For industries that have already been widely impacted by furlough, especially in the arts, entertainment and hospitality sectors – which employs many people in the 16-24 age range, our ‘bouncebackability’ is likely to be tested further.

This seems especially pertinent with the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown restrictions, set to go-ahead on 19 July, and Covid variants leading to more increases in positive cases.

Head of Cartwright King’s Employment Law team, Martin Cornforth, offers his insight around the ONS figures and the impact on younger employees, actively seeking work.

“Part of the reason young people have experienced a greater impact from the pandemic, is that they’re more likely to be engaged on casual or zero-hours contracts. This is partially due to the fact that many young people keep their options open for further education opportunities. The pandemic has seen an increase in young people engaged in full-time education. Whilst this may have a positive effect for some, there’s no doubt some groups of young people may be at risk of falling behind. In order to address this issue, the Government has launched the Kickstart Scheme. Kickstart provides employers with funding to create jobs, for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit.”

Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers:

• 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
• associated employer National Insurance contributions
• minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions

How will inflation impact employment opportunities?

Low inflation can be a sign of economic weakness and unemployment levels may increase, with people and businesses less willing to make investments or spend as consumers.

The UK inflation levels increased rapidly in June 2021, with some economists fearing the worst. However, there are many experts who consider inflation is likely to level-off, as supply is increased to meet the excess demand that has arisen from people having saved during the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, if inflation then decreases later in the year, unemployment may increase if businesses find that they are over-staffed due to reduced demand for services and goods.

How can Cartwright King help with any employment issues?

Cartwright King’s Employment Law specialist support fairness and best practice in the workplace. They provide impartial and practical advice that aims to resolve any disagreements quickly, whilst preventing drawn-out or potentially negative disputes.

For specialist advice in any of our areas of law, please call us or please email your enquiry using the contact form.

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All advice is correct at time of publication.