Jobs: ‘Government needs to do more to support private sector employment creation’

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The UK faces a long and difficult path back to full employment according to a new report published by the think tank IPPR.

Between 1.5 and 2 million jobs need to be created to return the employment rate to its pre-recession level of 73 per cent.

The report, called Jobs for the Future: The path back to full employment in the UK, argues the public sector has been filling in for insufficient private sector job creation over the last two decades

This will have to be reversed as the government cuts to public sector employment will put the onus on the private sector to create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next five years, the IPPR says.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts the private sector will create 1.5 million jobs over the next five years, but this will not be sufficient to replace jobs lost in the public sector, bring down unemployment and mop up new entrants to the labour market.

The report shows that mainstream economic forecasters, including the OBR, believe the UK will still be some way short of full employment by the beginning of 2016, eight years after the recession began.

IPPR’s analysis shows technological change and globalisation will continue to cause the nature of jobs to change.

In the last economic cycle, while 4.8 million net new jobs were created, 1.3 million jobs were lost in manufacturing.

The vast majority of jobs created over the next decade will come in the private service sector.

Key industries will include professional, business and scientific services and the information, communication and creative industries.

The report also argues that most jobs created in the UK over the next decade will be skilled jobs, while ‘traditional’ low-skilled jobs will continue to disappear, to be replaced by more work in areas such as social care and personal services.

IPPR analysis also shows some groups – in particular those with few or no skills, people with a disability, some ethnic minority groups and older people who previously worked in low value-added declining industries – will be particularly disadvantaged in the labour market in coming years and will need extra support to help them into work.

Among the reports recommendations are that the government should introduce a job guarantee scheme for those who have been out of work for 12 months

Tony Dolphin, IPPR associate director for economic policy, said: “Promoting a speedy return to full employment in the UK should be a priority for the government. There is little evidence to suggest the private sector will be able to meet the challenge over the next four years without help from government.

“Cutting corporate tax rates, deregulation and the creation of new Enterprise Zones are an inadequate response to the challenge, The government should work with others, including skills providers and welfare-to-work providers, to do more to support growth in the short-term and to avoid the problem of discouraged workers leaving the labour market by doing more to encourage retraining, to improve job-matching and to get the long-term unemployed back into work

“The longer someone is unemployed, the less likely they are ever to return to work. If we are going to provide decent services for our ageing population and clear the deficit, we need as many people in work as possible to maximise tax revenues. We cannot afford to let people permanently drift away from the jobs market.”

The research was sponsored by employment and skills experts Working Links.

Kenny Boyle, director of Working Links, said: “Going forward, it is important to highlight the benefits that apprenticeship schemes can bring to employers of all sizes. Our recent research shows that 80 per cent of employers believe apprenticeships will help reduce youth unemployment and an overwhelming 100 per cent of employers felt apprenticeships give young people the skills they need to find lasting work.

“It is vital to recognise the types of qualities and skills that employers value most and how best to provide these to young people.”