In response to a forthcoming CIPD labour market report, Chris Grayling has asserted that: “There are half a million jobs available in the economy, it’s high time those positions are filled.” But the presumption that unemployment is freely chosen unless the vacancy rate is zero is unfair.
ONS report that there are 5.3 unemployed people for every vacancy available in the UK – a result of over 2.5 million people being out of work and vacancy levels being around 475,000. Vacancies are also spread across the economy – for example 30,000 are in finance and insurance, 65,000 are in health and social work and 34,000 are in professional scientific and technical activities – and across the country.
In this context, it seems fair to assume that there are not enough jobs for unemployed people to do, that not all unemployed people will have the skills to do all of the jobs that are available and that there will be an imperfect match between the areas in which unemployed people live and the areas in which vacancies are available. Even in a booming labour market, it is inconcievable that there could be a vacancy rate of nil.
The Coalition needs a coherent policy to tackle unemployment and prevent long-term worklessness taking hold. Just telling unemployment people to get a job won’t be enough.