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The Chancellor’s summer statement: A positive step, but we must be mindful of continued skills gaps

By Simon Winfield, Managing Director, Hays UK & Ireland

The Chancellor’s statement goes some way to addressing the level of support needed for young people and it includes a number of incentives which should give employers more confidence to hire. The focus on jobs is welcome and essential for our recovery.

However, we need to remain mindful that even as unemployment rises, skills gaps are still evident and any investment should be very targeted.

Temporary workers have been overlooked, and their flexibility will be vital

Whilst the furlough bonus is welcome, we remain disappointed that the furlough scheme continues to overlook the specific needs of temporary workers. The flexibility they offer will be more key than ever before, but they don’t appear to have been considered. It would also have been good to see changes to the furlough scheme to apply it on a sector by sector basis.

The jobs scheme doesn’t go far enough for the younger generation

It’s young people who are early on in their career who are most likely to have been left out of work, furloughed or simply left unsure of how they will enter the job market post crisis. Covid-19 has opened a chasm between the young generation and those experienced professionals already established in their careers. Graduates, trainees and apprentices need dedicated time for training and development and thrive from face to face interaction. As a good proportion of organisations have been working from home in recent months, this training and development has diminished in many cases, which has exacerbated the situation further.

Our concern is that the jobs scheme for 16-24-year olds doesn’t go far in enough to capture the full extent of young people affected by Covid-19. We would have liked to see the scheme extended to 16-30-year olds. It would be more likely to have a long-lasting effect for employers who can develop training programmes and opportunities specifically for this age group, as well as providing those in junior positions at risk of redundancy the chance to re-train elsewhere, especially to those sectors with the largest skills gaps, such as engineering and construction.

Careers advisors will inevitably be needed, and the Chancellor has earmarked greater provision for this. But we need to ensure they have access to the most up-to-date information about where the job opportunities actually are, so their advice can be practical and targeted in the areas where people will be more likely to secure employment.

For more insights and advice on the current hiring landscape, or to find out how we can support your career or your organisation in the new era of work, speak to one of our expert consultants today

About this author

Simon joined Hays in 2006, having commenced his recruitment career in 1993. Initially responsible for our businesses in Western Australia and Northern Territory, Simon relocated to the UK in 2014 where he was responsible for our operations in the West & Wales and Ireland, before being appointed Managing Director of the UK & Ireland business in 2018.

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