Flexible working options should be a standard offering in new roles if employers and recruiters are to meet the challenges of the labour market.
That is one of a number of recommendations made in the concluding publication of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s Future of Jobs Commission, chaired by former employment minister Esther McVey.
The report says employers need to act now to improve the way they source, engage and nurture their workforce if they are to avoid rising skills shortages and further declines in productivity and competitiveness over the next seven years. At the same time, Government policy must be geared to prepare for “seismic” changes in the world of work.
- Hirers should engage with schools, colleges and universities to provide real-world, practical advice and help young people be better prepared;
- Employers should be more creative in their recruitment, offering flexible work as standard and removing barriers for under-represented groups, for example by using collaborative hiring or name-blind recruitment;
- The Government should create a new Employment and Skills Advisory Committee to review data and take evidence to help it plan investment in training, and immigration policy;
- Policy-makers should ensure that all people can progress, for example by making the apprenticeship levy into a broader training levy that benefits all workers;
- The Government and business need to find new ways of measuring the success of the UK jobs market, including progress on inclusion, social mobility, pay gaps and productivity.
Big challenges are around the corner, according to the report, which mean business as usual is not an option. The UK’s labour market will continue to ‘hollow out’ with mid-skill jobs declining in many sectors, sometimes exacerbated by automation.
Baby boomers’ decline as a percentage of the workforce will be offset by the growing influence of younger generations who place a higher value on flexibility, work-life balance and personal development. The report adds that Brexit and its aftermath will profoundly affect candidate availability by altering the types and numbers of foreign workers from the EU.
McVey said: “With the world of work undergoing seismic changes, we need to do more to support people on their journey from school to retirement. In particular, helping individuals develop the skills they need to capitalise on new opportunities must involve greater collaboration between business and schools.
“With the pace of change, there will be turbulent times ahead, but we want this report to fuel the debate about what the future world of work could and should look like”.
REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “By 2025 we want good work to be the norm, where businesses champion diversity and inclusion and invest in training and skills development for all staff, no matter what kind of contract they are on.
“We need to foster a labour market where anyone can both find work and progress within work, irrespective of their background.”