The UK currently sits in quite a strange position when it comes to employment, which has the potential to have an unlikely impact on entrepreneurship.
At the back end of last month, it was revealed that Britain’s unemployment rate is at a four-decade low of 4.3 per cent. In real money that means there are more than 32 million people currently working, and around 1.4 million people without a job – with lack of skills a key part of the problem.
The pace of job creation has also rivalled Usain Bolt in the speed stakes, with the number of people in work rising by 102,000 in the three months to November 2017.
With such high employment, there is a temptation to think that there aren’t too many unfilled jobs out there. Again, the statistics fly in the face of that presumption as there’s about 800,000.
There’ll be a number of reasons why these roles are unfilled, some of which may be down to certain groups of people, who would rather be sat on the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle than earn a crust, but a lot will be down to lack of skills.
And there’s the rub ain’t it. Another example of chickens coming home to roost. With only certain pockets of the population trained to a required level, these vacancies go begging. Employers in some sectors would have more chance of getting the toothpaste back in the tube than finding the right candidates due to this lack of skills.
From my own experience, we are already fishing at the bottom of a very shallow pond for highly-experienced tradespeople. Yes, we’re training apprentices, but not to the level we, or any other company, would really like. And even then, the lack of vocational training investment over recent decades has left us playing catch up.
So, if the pace of new job creation is Usain Bolt, the speed of increasing vocational training could rival the traffic jams on the M25 on a Friday night.
But perhaps, in some small way, there is a chink of light in all this. If the jobs available are in such specific areas that require specialist skills, what are people going to do if they want to make a change?
And the answer could be entrepreneurship. A bit of research by an accounting software company from last month revealed that more Brits than ever before want to start their own businesses in 2018.
The study found that around 3.5 million people harbour a desire to become their own boss, which is about 11 per cent of the employed people in the UK. Of those surveyed, more women than men plan to set up their own business with London being home to the highest number of budding entrepreneurs.
I am a huge advocate of starting a business, which enables people to set their own destiny, but also make a serious contribution to the economy. With any luck, most of these new businesses will not remain one-man-bands for long and transform into employers.
That will further speed up job creation and hopefully there will be roles that the population is currently skilled to deliver. Otherwise, we’ll be stepping even further into a skills black hole.
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