To say the political situation is turbulent would be an understatement. Like many other organisations, we are finalising plans for next year and working through the many assumptions that are needed as part of this process. Go back three or four years, and we’d all have been able to have a pretty good go at answering questions, like ‘Who will be the Prime Minister’, ‘Which Party will be in power?’, ‘Will we be in the European Union?’. I defy anyone to confidently predict the answers to these questions for 2019. Closer to home, the world of apprenticeships has also been turned on its head in the last 18 months, with Standards, the IfA, EPA, Levy and many other changes rendering the system almost unrecognisable.
There is so much ‘noise’ about these different topics, that some of the important facts about the need for talent are going unnoticed. So, here are five headlines that set the scene for talent acquisition in 2019:
Labour Market ‘Supply Shock’
The CIPD and Adecco’s latest ‘Labour Market Outlook’ describes what they see as a ‘Supply Shock’ due to the significant skills and labour shortages. The number of employers reporting difficulties has increased from 61% in spring this year to 70% in the autumn. That’s a rapid and significant shift. Almost half of all employers are now saying it’s harder to fill vacancies.
Employment Rates at an all-time high
In the same week as the CIPD research, the ONS also published their latest statistics showing that employment rates are at 75.5%; 350,000 more people in employment than the same time last year. The overall unemployment rate was also down from 4.3% in 2018 to just 4.1% in 2019, near-record levels.
Unfilled Vacancies are at an all-time record
The ONS has also just reported that the number of UK Job Vacancies has also just reached another all-time high. At 840,000 openings, this number has accelerated rapidly since the beginning of 2013, when the number was just 500,000.
Youth unemployment down, but still at double national rate
The total youth unemployment rate is 16.4%, but only 9.4% when those in full time education are excluded. This is close to its lowest level since comparable records began in 1992. Whilst the UK is performing better than the European average, where countries like Greece (39%), Spain (35%) and Italy (32%) have a major impact, countries such as Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia the Netherlands and Germany still do a better job at getting young people into work.
Unemployment is still twice as likely in non-white ethnic groups.
Overall, whilst unemployment is just 4% for white people, it is 8% from all other ethnic groups combined. For those aged 16-24, this figure jumps from 8% to 19%. Given the employment challenges set out above, it is striking that one in 5 young people from non-white groups is likely to be out of work.
So, what does this mean for the world of FE, and specifically apprenticeships? It is clear to see that with the continued tightening of the labour market, and organisations’ inability to recruit skilled workers, other solutions will be needed. Historically, apprenticeships have provided a structured route to bridge the gap between full-time education and work, but with the introduction of the levy and its associated funding rules, this route has been turned off to a large extent. The use of the levy to train existing staff and the record number of starts on management programmes is a testament to this fact.
The traditional approach of apprentices on minimum wage is also being challenged. Analysis completed by GetMyFirstJob, based on national candidate and recruiter data from the TalentPortal shows clearly that roles that are not ‘competitive’ financially are attracting few quality applicants. Those colleges, providers and employers that recognise this are, however, able to attract an increasing number of high-quality applicants who are questioning the pre-programmed march to University and debt.
In 2019, one thing is clear. The UK is going to continue to face massive and increasing skills challenges. The winners will be those that develop structured approaches to engaging and recruiting emerging talent.
GetMyFirstJob is a Social Enterprise that is dedicated to providing opportunities for those entering the workforce through traineeships, apprenticeships and other entry level roles. Founded in 2014, TheTalentPortal has been used to shortlist over 1.5m applications in the last 4 years.