The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed unemployment at just 3.8 per cent among those aged 16 and over between February and April 2022, marking a fifty year low.
They also said the number of job vacancies were at a record high of 1.3 million, up more than 500,000 on pre-pandemic levels.
Louise Doswell, principal and chief executive of Preston College, sponsors of the Employer of the Year category in this year’s Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, said the figures were encouraging but point to a need for businesses to invest more in retaining existing staff.
She said: “Employers report that it’s getting harder and harder to find the right number of quality candidates for roles they’re recruiting, partly because unemployment levels are so high.
“They’re also having to compete harder to attract the candidates that are available, and risk their existing employees being poached.
“Given these conditions, the best thing businesses can do right now is to focus more attention on creating a working environment and culture that means existing staff want to stay, while also investing in the personal and professional development of their people.”
According to the Labour Market Outlook for Spring 2022 published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in May, 45 per cent of firms report that they have hard-to-fill vacancies.
It said the most common response to hiring difficulties has been to raise pay (44 per cent of businesses surveyed). But it also noted that 39 per cent of employers reported having focused on upskilling more existing staff as another means of tackling their staffing challenges.
Louise Doswell said: “This week, we conclude the judging in the Employer of the Year category of the BIBAs. We’ve already had a glimpse of what some of the entrants have been doing to deserve this award, and it will be interesting to see what the remaining hopefuls have been up to.”
To judge entries, the BIBAs use a benchmarking criteria developed by Lancaster University Management School following a research project that aligned the BIBAs judging process with America’s top business awards, The Stevies, the European Business Awards, and the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise here in the UK.