Thursday, 18 March 2010

Surge in student numbers enables unemployment to fall

The CIPD - (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) has been very busy over the past couple of days issuing Press Releases.

The first is entitled "Continued surge in student numbers enables unemployment to fall, despite fewer people in work as private sector sheds jobs, says CIPD"

Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) comments as follows on official labour market statistics published earlier today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which update the Labour Force Survey measures of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity to the quarterly period November 2009-January 2010, the Workforce Jobs series to Q4 2009, Public and Private sector employment to Q4 2009, the count of people unemployed and claiming Jobseeker's Allowance to February 2010, and average weekly earnings for January 2010:

"One word sums up the latest official jobs figures: confusing. Unemployment is sharply down, however you measure it. Yet there also 54,000 fewer people in work, with full-time jobs particularly hard hit. The apparent paradox is explained by a very sharp rise of 149,000 in the number of economically inactive people, with the number of students surging by 98,000. Jobless young people are thus turning to study in their thousands to avoid the dole.

"Although a fall in unemployment is clearly better than a rise this should not be read as a sign that the UK jobs market is recovering strongly. Overall the jobs market is flat, operating at much weaker level of demand than before the recession, and still at risk of a serious relapse. Most worrying is the fall of 61,000 in private sector employment in the final quarter of 2009.
The jobs market for the time being is still being propped up by the public sector but the public sector job creation machine is about the be switched off. Indeed, the latest figures already show a fall in employment in local government - this marks the start of a jobs cull that will ultimately see hundreds of thousands of jobs cut from the overall public payroll.

"Whether or not benign headline jobless figures limit the potency of unemployment as a vote clinching issue in the forthcoming General Election campaign, whoever forms the next Government will face a Herculean task in its efforts to return the UK economy to full employment within this decade."


The second one's headline is "CIPD survey shows workers as likely to have caring responsibilities for a partner, relative, and friend as they are for children, highlighting growing demand for flexibility at work"

A survey of 2,000 employees by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows workers are as likely to have caring responsibilities for a partner, relative, and friend as they are for children. Focus on Caring at Work finds a third (34%) of employees have some form of caring responsibilities, with 20% citing children. However, 12% cite relatives, 6% their partner, and 2% a friend.

And the survey also shows there is little difference between the sexes in their caring responsibilities, with 36% of women citing caring responsibilities and 33% of men.

Ben Willmott, CIPD senior public policy adviser, says: "The survey highlights the challenges many employees have in managing what are often a range of caring responsibilities. The proportion of people having to balance work while caring for their partner or spouse, parents, and other relatives will increase as life expectancy continues to rise and as people work longer to save for retirement.

"This is why the CIPD is calling for the right to request flexible working to be extended to all employees, rather than just parents, by 2013. This is not about employers putting the interests of employees before the business, it is just about them seriously considering whether they can accommodate flexible working requests in order to recruit and retain a diverse workforce."

Focusing purely on childcare, 72% of mothers and 43% of fathers have changed how or where they work to play a more active role in their children's upbringing. Of these:

• Almost a third of working parents (31%) report they have worked flexibly to become more active parents
• Twenty-eight per cent have worked shorter hours and 23% have worked from home
• However, sixteen per cent have gone as far as changing their jobs to become a more active parent

Willmott continues: "The survey suggests that the majority of employers are already providing flexible working options to allow working parents to play an active role in the upbringing of their children. Employers that don't provide flexible working options for working parents risk losing valuable employees.

"However, our survey also indicates that employees with other caring responsibilities such as aging or sick parents and partners will increasingly expect the same sort of work-life balance opportunities as working parents."


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