Figures released recently show that there were 30.98 million people in work in the March-to-May quarter, 67,000 down from the previous quarter and the first fall since April 2013.
Despite the rise in the jobless total, the UK’s Work and Pensions Minister, Priti Patel, told the BBC that there were jobs out there:
“When you look at the strength of the UK labour market – through the reforms we brought in in the last parliament and now as well we’re continuing to implement – we are seeing a lot of growth in the economy, and at the same time, wages are increasing, but vacancies are still at over 700,000, so there are jobs out there in the labour market and vacancies are there.”
The push towards apprenticeships may account, in part, for the most recent drop. By design, apprenticeships provide only short term, low-paid work. At the expiry of an apprenticeship there is no obligation on the employer to continue to pay the apprentice at or above the minimum wage. With the introduction of the enhanced national living wage, the employer may be even more hamstrung, especially if they are a small business or start-up without financial stability.
There may be jobs out there, but if young workers are not trained and skilled in available and sustainable roles in which they can continue to develop, unemployment figures will continue to rise. All eyes will be on the next quarter when the government will be put to task should job security and economic recovery not continue.