Business groups have spoken out against the Government’s claims that jobs are available and that the failure of jobseekers to match themselves to vacancies had brought about a rise in immigration.
At the weekend, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith told the Conservative Party conference in Cardiff that there are jobs to be had if the unemployed make more effort to match their skills to vacancies.
In his speech, Duncan Smith said: “It’s shortsighted to say there aren’t any jobs at the moment. The fact is there are around half a million vacancies.”
He added that it is not the lack of jobs that is the problem but instead the “failure” to match the unemployed to existing jobs. This failure, he continued, had fuelled immigration. “We had a supply of labour – the unemployed. We had a demand for labour – all the new jobs. But we couldn’t match them up, so we had to import people.”
But John Philpott, chief economic adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, told Personnel Today that while Duncan Smith was right “up to a point”, his view was too simplistic.
“There are still five unemployed people chasing every vacancy, so it’s partly explained by job matching, and Job Centre Plus – though there is room for improvement – has been working well,” said Philpott. “But the main issues are less to do with the matching process per se and more to do with issues such as skills, location of jobs, and cost of travelling. To suggest that you can get unemployment down by improving matches alone is pushing it somewhat.”
Duncan Smith’s comments were also condemned by union leaders. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Rather than attacking jobseekers for not doing enough to find work, the Government desperately needs to develop an economic strategy that prioritises growth and jobs to bring revenues in and the deficit down.
“The current plan of deep, rapid cuts is causing job losses to mount and sending our economy in the wrong direction. The Government is sitting on an unemployment time-bomb and needs to do all it can to prevent a generation from being permanently scarred by joblessness.”