Last week the press was full of news that UK unemployment rose by another 28,000 in the three months up until January. The figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest there are 2.67 million people who are now out of work.
Dig deeper into these headlines, however, and you will find better news particularly for permanent jobs and in the engineering sector. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation publishes its own data which shows the private sector created 45, 000 new jobs and the public sector lost only 34,000 jobs (a net increase in jobs); it also noted that “the growth in permanent placements reached a nine month high”.
There has been positive news over the last month relating to the automotive industry. Jaguar Land Rover announced last week that it would be creating 1,000 new jobs at its Halewood factory. This is on top of the 1,000 jobs that were announced in November that would be created in its Solihull plant.
At the Geneva Motor Show earlier in March Nissan launched its new hatchback concept car – Invitation and announced it would be built at the Nissan plant in Sunderland, creating 400 new jobs. This brings the workforce at the Sunderland Plant to around 6,000 – it’s highest ever level.
The jobs in the plant are only half the story – it’s jobs in the supply chain that may really start to make a difference to employment figures. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) told Recruiter “the general rule is that every job within an OEM [original equipment manufacturer] creates 7.5 jobs in the supply chain”. In other words, the Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan announcements should create not just 2,500 jobs, but an additional 18,000 jobs within the UK supply chain.
Research by Manpower on employers looking to hire in the next quarter seems to confirm this picture of strong demand for jobs in some sectors of the economy. Confidence is particularly high in London, the East Midlands and the North-West, with the Olympics continuing to have a positive impact on the London jobs market. The utilities sector has the most optimistic outlook for jobs while confidence in the manufacturing sector continues to grow.
The rise in unemployment shows that not all sectors are doing so well. Public sector cuts continue to bite whilst employer confidence across the country is patchy. Perhaps the greatest concern is that employers in the construction industry are still not hiring as cranes in the skyline have traditionally been considered a good indicator of economic activity as a whole.
At TXM we hope that the Employment Minister Chris Grayling is right and that the labour market is stabilising. Certainly we have lots of engineering jobs that we are still seeking to fill.