“Today’s figures show the labour market remained very resilient during the latest lockdown, and even show the beginnings of the recovery in hiring that business surveys are suggesting. It’s no surprise to see a fall in the total hours worked when restrictions were at their strictest. The fact that the number of payrolled employees increased during January-March alongside the headline employment rate is also a positive sign. With the announcement of lockdown easing in February and restrictions starting to lift in March, business confidence has grown, and we can see that in the growing number of job vacancies – especially in sectors like hospitality.
“The challenge for us all in the coming months will be helping people into the new jobs that are being created. It was good to see some measures to improve the skills system in the Queen’s Speech, but more can and should be done. It’s clear that the Apprenticeship Levy is not working effectively – broadening it into a more flexible skills levy that all workers can use to access training would be a real boost, and speak to the government’s levelling up agenda.”