The Office of National Statistics has confirmed that the number of people currently in work has risen to a record high and that private sector wages have also increased, signalling the potential recovery of the economy and job market.
What the statistics say
These figures suggest a marked change in the economy and job markets, with more people than ever now in work. Thirty point eight million people currently hold a job, which is a record high, and increases the percentage in employment to 73%. Two thousand and fourteen also saw the rate of working-age people claiming basic benefits sink to its lowest in a generation, which the government says is down to the implementation of various initiatives and schemes.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan-Smith, suggests the change in figures is down to the government’s welfare reforms, which include a cap on benefits and an increase in work experience placements for young people.
The other side of the coin
In spite of the new figures, there are some who believe that the numbers should not be taken as a literal sign of improvement. For example, we have previously written about the reported lack of core skills young people have to help them embrace a working environment, with some stating that industries like manufacturing and IT are suffering from a serious lack of qualified employees.
The rise in private sector wages has also been criticised. Dropping oil prices and pressure over UK ties with Europe has meant that inflation is unusually low, helping the wage increase appear far more exciting than previous increases.
In spite of criticism, the ONS statistics on youth employment suggest a resurgence of young people wanting, and not just needing, to get into work they are passionate about. Youth unemployment rates have dropped month on month for three years, meaning that 3.8 million young people are now in work.
The development of skills in both emerging and established industries is a must for the coming year if young people are to grow and become leaders in fields that are currently lacking in skilled workers. The IT industry is undergoing vast changes as it advances and the youth of the UK are in prime position to grab hold of new roles.
However, in order to keep the maximum number of people in work, whether young or old, skills must be constantly developed. The numbers ending 2014 are promising and certainly suggest an increase in the desire to work and contribute to society; it remains to be seen whether 2015 will be just as successful – but here’s hoping!