On the UK conference trail: REC reports on virtual Conservative Party event

“…because even in the darkest moments we can see the bright future ahead, and we can see how to build it, and we are going to build it together.”

This is how Prime Minister Boris Johnson finished his speech at the 2020 Conservative Party Conference. And we warmly welcome the idea of building a future together. The ambitious plan lined out by the PM will certainly require great levels of recruitment expertise; from offering career advice and reskilling, to filling vacancies with the right people.

Job finding support at the heart of recovery
As we emphasised at the time of the election back in 2019, a good industrial strategy is one with skills and jobs at its heart. And the same goes for the green strategy targets for 2030. A thriving economy is one with high employment rates. It was good to have that acknowledged by the government through the recent support schemes focused on jobs and skills.

As the REC’s latest Jobs Recovery Tracker revealed, the blue-collar sector is leading labour market recovery. We are pleased to hear this could be boosted further with investment in green energy, and the sector’s ambition to create 2,000 direct and up to 60,000 other direct and indirect jobs across the country by 2030.

The Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) scheme will focus on those out of work for more than three months and will ensure those put forward for the scheme have access to tailored, flexible support to quickly get back into employment. This a welcome focus on the need to help people who have lost jobs because of Covid to transition into growing industries. This is important if we are to stave off a long-term unemployment crisis, but we need to see more detail on how this interacts with other government support schemes. The UK's recruitment industry is the expert when it comes to coaching and supporting people into new jobs, and we are ready to assist the government to get people back to work.

Hand-in-hand with that, the prime minister’s recognition of the importance of the private sector was timely. Government support to date has helped many firms survive during this economic downturn, but as the level of support is reduced, maintaining the health of the private sector will be more important than ever. The labour market is making a comeback with over 1.2m job vacancies out there right now, but even so, we face rising unemployment through the autumn. As the jobs experts, recruiters are vital in supporting job seekers transition into the growing industries the prime minister mentioned. That has to start with a strong role for the sector in the DWP Job Finding Support scheme.

What is the plan for 2021?
Despite ministers exuding an air of optimism and confidence at the party conference, we know there are still big issues on the horizon as the Points Based Immigration system comes into force and the Brexit transition period ends. We need the right people for the right jobs, and that goes for many sectors, namely in healthcare and as part of the green jobs plan mentioned in the PM’s speech. 

We warmly welcome the latest job support announcement, but we also need clarity, certainty, and flexibility on immigration for the future. Once Britain is back on its feet, and employment levels recover, businesses must know they can access labour from wherever it is needed, delivered via a flexible and adaptable immigration system.

We look forward to working with government to help rebuild the UK, but in the short term, the government must avoid a second lockdown by delivering on the test and trace system, which will keep the economy open and maintain consumer demand.

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