The Current UK Labour Market
What is a labour market?
A labour market is a mechanism that matches potential employers of people (the demand for labour) with people who are available for work (the labour supply).
Labour markets operate at local, regional, national and, increasingly, at international levels, reflecting how economies operate.
Forces that affect a labour market
Labour markets are affected by a wide range of factors including:
- Changes in the external business environment, such as increases in consumer demand for the goods or services provided by an industry
- Changes in the internal business environment, such as changes in production processes, new technologies or business structures resulting in job losses, or changes in the level of occupations available (for example, more technical jobs, fewer unskilled jobs)
- Government interventions, such as regeneration programmes supporting education, training and investment in particular skills or geographical areas.
- New laws which affect jobs (for example, banning hunting, or restricting the number of hours a lorry driver can drive)
- National and international policies like the introduction of National Minimum Wages, or free movement of labour within the European Union
- Legislation affecting employment rights – Equal Pay Act, Sex Discrimination Act, Race Relations Act, Asylum and Immigration Act, and the Disability Discrimination Act – placing restrictions on how employers recruit.
The supply of, and demand for, labour is constantly changing. Labour market information is compiled to track and record those changes, and to predict changes that might lie ahead.
Where do people work in the UK labour market?
Labour market information looks at both the industries in which people work and the occupations they have. Some jobs are mostly available in only one industry, e.g. nurses work mainly in the health and social care industry. Some jobs are available across a wide range of industries, e.g. accountant.
However, a large company making computers will employ one or two nurses and several accountants, as well as many computer design engineers. Many jobs are available in all industries to some extent, particularly in large organisations with many employees.
When students make their career choices they should take into account where they would like to work as well as what they would like to do.
The box below shows how the UK working population is employed by standard industrial
How is the UK labour market changing?
The central projection estimates that jobs in London will grow from 2017 at an annual average rate of 0.78 percent a year, equivalent to 49,000 jobs, to reach 6.907 million in 2041.
They project that jobs in the professional, real estate, scientific and technical sector are expected to grow strongly, accounting for over a third of the total increase expected in London to 2041. Strong employment growth is also expected in the administrative and support services, accommodation and food services, information and communications sectors, education and health sectors. The six sectors account for nearly three-fifths of the expected total London increase in jobs to 2041. In Redbridge it is expected that 500 new jobs will be created a year over the next 20 years, meaning that rates of employment within the borough are set to rise.
Labour Market Intelligence predicts that:
- Fewer people will be working in agriculture and manufacturing
- The largest rise in employment opportunities will be in the service sector: hotels and restaurants, retailing, health and social work, and financial services
- Jobs in childcare and health care will increase because more women are entering the workforce and need childcare, and an ageing population is leading to a demand for more health care.
Another way of looking at change is by occupational categories (SOCs). The box below
shows the proportions of the UK workforce in each occupational category.
Labour Market Intelligence predicts that in the future there will be fewer jobs in:
- Craft and related occupations
- Clerical and secretarial occupations
- Transport and machine operative’ jobs.
There will be more jobs in:
- Management and administration
- Professional occupations
- Associate professional and technical occupations
- Personal and protective services
It is also predicted that nearly all jobs will require high skill levels because of:
- The increased use of new technology: computers; telecommunications; scientific and technical equipment; etc
- More demands from the legislation: health and safety; qualification requirements for jobs etc.
- Multi-skilling: where employers need staff who can undertake a wide range of tasks rather than focus on a single trade or skill area
- Increased emphasis on quality and customer care and a rise in customer expectations. Competition is fierce and to gain and keep customers many companies now place more emphasis on innovation, quality and customer care.
What skills and qualities do employers need?
The specific and transferable skills being sought by employers are:
- Intelligence – the ability to analyse situations and solve problems, think things through and use common sense
- Knowledge – an understanding of „basic principles‟ rather than a lot of specialist knowledge
- Willingness to learn – the ability and desire to learn, and to keep learning new things and new ways of doing things
- Flexibility and adaptability – the ability to respond to change, to try new things, and to manage change
- Self-regulatory skills – the ability to be self disciplined about time-keeping, appearance and managing yourself and your work
- Self-motivation – being a „self-starter‟, resilient, tenacious and determined
- Self-assurance – being confident and self directed
- Commercial awareness – an appreciation of the business environment and what individuals need to do to survive and thrive.
- Communication skills – the ability to communicate, formally and informally, verbally and in writing, using ICT and other media, with a wide range of people both inside and outside the organisation
- Interpersonal skills – the ability to relate to and feel comfortable with people at all levels and to be able to make and maintain relationships as circumstances change
- Team working – the ability to work effectively in teams, often more than one team at once, and to switch roles from one project‟s situation to another in an ever-changing work situation.
Redbridge specific information:
The graph below depicts the employment by occupation in Redbridge. This clearly demonstrates that the majority of jobs in Redbridge are lined to professional occupations.
This table demonstrates the number of jobs in Redbridge per industry. This shows that Education, Human health and social work activities and wholesale and retail are the biggest employee job sectors in Redbridge.