Anyone who’s attempted to negotiate the labyrinth of statistics available around employment support in the UK will tell you how difficult it can be to track down basic figures around key areas. While government departments do an admirable job of releasing staple programme data routinely, some contextual information can be harder to find – either because it is buried in hefty datasets or because it is only gathered by non-government parties. A further inconvenience is posed by these figures coming from such a range of organisations and different departments, pulling together a clear picture can be a time-consuming effort.
ERSA believes that this kind of information is essential to understand where support should be targeted and work to improve the services delivered to jobseekers. To this end, ERSA has created the Employment Support in the UK: Key statistics briefing. The briefing acts as a roundup of important statistics on employment in the UK drawn from government, third sector and academic sources. It covers key topline statistics such as the employment rate, but also examines individual government programmes, education, apprenticeships and individual cohorts of jobseekers to give a clear, concise picture of the UK labour market and employment support at all levels. ERSA will be updating this document on a rolling basis to ensure that it continues to offer an accurate overview of employment sector performance.
Looking at the macro figures in this first edition of the briefing the current picture of the employment landscape is extremely positive; with the Work Programme coming to a close, we now have the highest employment rate for more than 40 years, record lows in unemployment amongst young people, and tens of thousands fewer people in long-term unemployment since the programme began.
It is also clear, however, that beneath this positive outlook is a continuing need for specialist support amongst some groups. The Work Programme has been a great success for jobseekers on JSA, evidenced by a dramatic fall in the number of JSA claimants since 2011. While ESA performance on the Work Programme has improved significantly since the programme began, there is still work to be done. Employment gaps remain amongst harder-to-help cohorts - most prominently people with disabilities, where a gap of 33.1% persists despite government aims to halve that figure. Similarly, people of ethnic minority backgrounds, informal carers and young people all have significantly lower employment rates. These figures starkly show the need for continued investment in specialist support.
There is a lot of uncertainty ahead for employment support in the UK; the Work and Health Programme is still taking shape ahead of its planned launch in 2017 and the potential ramifications of the results of the referendum for the economy and labour market are still unclear. In that climate we hope that this briefing will provide some clarity on the picture of UK employment and impact of employment support in the UK.
The report can be found here.