MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee have launched an inquiry into the UK’s labour market as skills and worker shortages restrain the post-pandemic economic recovery.
MPs will examine the challenges faced by workers and employers and what the government and businesses can do support the labour market.
The inquiry is the latest strand of the committee’s broad Post-Pandemic Economic Growth inquiry and will seek to hear from experts, business organisations, unions and other bodies to pull together information on economic and labour trends.
Committee chair and Labour MP Darren Jones said the purpose of the inquiry was to identify how to get “the right workers, with the right skills, in the right places”. He said: “The latest ONS figures show there’s more vacancies than people to fill them for the first time, acting as a brake on our prosperity.
“Recovering from the shock of the pandemic was never going to be easy, and it is made more difficult by the effects of an aging population and changes in migration.
“To give us the best possible chance we must make sure we have the right workers, with the right skills, in the right places. That’s why we’ve launched an inquiry into what employers need to accelerate the recovery, what workers need for their own stability and growth, and how new technology can be harnessed in a fair and productive economy.”
Businesses will be able to contribute evidence to the inquiry until 8 July 2022 and are being asked to consider questions around the impact of the UK’s departure from the EU on skills, the role of long-Covid in economic inactivity, the sklls and training needs of different sectors and the role of artificial intelligence and advanced tech in the workplace.
Contributors are also invited to comment on government support for apprenticeships and skills, how to improve employment rights, progress towards meeting the goals of the Taylor review and barriers facing older people who wish to return or remain in the workforce.
The latest ONS figures on the labour market showed that total actual weekly hours worked increased by 14.8 million hours to 1.04 billion hours in January to March 2022, compared with the previous quarter. This is still 10.7 million below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. The shortfall in total hours is down to the reduced numbers in employment, it found.
Additionally, the unemployment rate for January to March 2022 decreased by 0.3 percentage points on the quarter to 3.7%, meaning that for the first time since records began, there are fewer unemployed people than job vacancies.