Scotland’s labour market continues to tighten

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Demand for permanent and temporary staff in Scotland has increased in the past few months, according to a new jobs survey.

Statistics put together by Royal Bank of Scotland have indicated that IT and computing saw the highest level of permanent vacancies in January. However, while temporary positions have increased slightly overall, the largest number of unfilled part-time vacancies were in medical, nursing and care professions.

The Royal Bank of Scotland’s Report on Jobs determined that the rate of deterioration in permanent staff supply was the strongest it has looked since 2014. The report consists of multiple responses to a survey sent to around 100 recruitment and employment consultancies.

Sebastian Burnside, chief economist at Royal Bank of Scotland, said:

”Continued expansion in permanent job placements and temporary staff billings across Scotland was seen in January, indicating further signs of a tightening labour market.

”Overall, survey data portrayed a favourable labour market for workers in Scotland, with pay pressures rising as a result of strong imbalances in staff supply and demand.”


Record low unemployment in Scotland

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported a record low of people unemployed in Scotland in the final months of 2018. 

However, the fact that the job market is now very crowded could lead to issues for people wanting to find employment in the future.


UK Job centre. Credit J Ellison.

In the last ten years, the Scottish economy has been re-energised by the spirit of entrepreneurship. People across the country are contributing massively to the Scottish job market by creating businesses and brands that excite and capture the imagination of the public. This, in turn, creates a demand for people who have a wide range of skills that appeal to potential employers.

Findings by the ONS reported that employment among people aged 16-24 was around 60% with more than 300,000 young people in either full or part-time work. It also revealed that the youth unemployment rate was down by 1.2% reaching 8.4%. Overall, Scotland had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.6% compared to 4.1% in England and 3.9% in Wales.

Scotland has kept costs for homegrown students to a minimum which means more young people and even older people are pursuing further education.

A college student studying construction shred his thought on how these figures are negative for him:

The ONS reported that between September and November last year, the unemployment figures dropped to below 100,000. This means that over 75% of the working population in Scotland is in employment. This comes as good news as Brexit grows ever closer.

Scottish Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Despite the huge and continued challenges of Brexit, the Scottish economy remains resilient and our jobs market is strengthening.”

It was recently revealed Sir James Dyson was moving his headquarters from the UK to Singapore amid Brexit chaos. This may, however, turn out to be a good move for the UK. Dyson is trying to tap into the massive Asian consumer market. If business profits increase then the company will have to pay more in UK taxes.

Scotland has seen a sharp rise in the number of permanent and temporary staff over the later months of 2018. This growth in the job market outperformed the UK as a whole. Both staff groups also found that they were receiving on average, higher wages. This may be due to the drop in workers’ availability where employers have to employ more people to cover workers who possess the skills required but have other commitments.

Even though the low unemployment figures are a good sign that people are in work and are able to contribute to the economy it does pose problems for people who are coming straight into a heavily saturated job market where there are fewer opportunities than there was before. The hope is that continued investment by people with an idea or a business can generate more wealth for the whole of Scotland.

New rights for 0 hour workers in Britain

New government reforms will give greater rights to the millions of zero hour and agency workers across Britain.

The changes come as a response to last year’s Taylor Review into working practices. Business Secretary Greg Clark has said that the changes will “address very clearly” the rights of those who are in this line of work.

He told the BBC:

“We will be enforcing the rights that people have and are entitled to.

We want to embrace new ways of working, and to do so we will be one of the first countries to prepare our employment rules to reflect the new challenges.”

The government claims that the majority of the Taylor Review’s suggestions will be adopted.  However, unions have said that the changes will leave 1.8 million workers without vital rights.

As part of its changes the government will: enforce holiday and sick pay entitlements, give all workers the right to demand a payslip and allow flexible workers to demand more stable contracts.

The review focuses on the gig economy of part time and flexible workers.  There was an estimated 1.1 million people working in Britain’s gig economy in 2017.

What do gig workers do? | Image Credit: Reuters

EN4 News spoke to some 0 hour workers to get their views on the proposed changes.

Leila Wallace, an agency worker for Quality Link, said that although her experience with agency work has been positive, she appreciates the changes and how they will benefit others.

“I personally already receive these benefits.  I get a payslip every week, even if I’m not working, and recently received my holiday pay.

I think 0 hour contracts are great, obviously there are some negatives, but the job allows me to work around my university schedule and my social life.

However, I do know some more disadvantaged 0 hour contract workers who struggle to get the hours they need, so giving them more stability in their job will definitely be a positive change.”

Other workers agreed that they had positive experiences with 0 hour contracts in the past, Sophie-Ann Mair, a member of the House Team for Edinburgh University’s Student Association, said:

“Personally zero hour contracts in my experience have always been positive.

However, in my current job I do get holiday pay and they allow me flexible working hours around my studies.”

She added that it is important that all employers follow these rules, not just some:

“I know I’m in a lucky position in that my employer works around me rather than the other way around.

I think it is important people on zero hour contracts are entitled to the same rights as contract workers, as if they do not, zero hour contracts become a way for employers to cut corners and not value their workers.”

Unions have criticised the proposed changes, claiming that there is little substance to the plans.  Trades Union Congress General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The government has taken a baby step – when it needed to take a giant leap.

These plans won’t stop the hire and fire culture of zero-hours contracts or sham self-employment. And they will still leave 1.8 million workers excluded from key protections.”

Unemployment in Scotland up by 11,000



According to the Office for National Statistics report released today, the number of those who are jobless has risen by 11,000 in Scotland, whereas it fell across the rest of the UK overall.

However, Scottish employment  increased by 3000, with youth employment performing best.

Although Scotland continues to outperform the UK as a whole on employment at 74.1% compared to the UK average at 73.7%, the Scottish unemployment rate is 6%, which is above the rate of 5.3% for the whole of the UK.

After increasing by 34,000 over the year, youth employment is at its highest July to September level since 2008.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) dropped by 1,700 to 68,800 between September and October – 20,200 fewer than a year ago.

Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary said:

“This was another disappointing set of statistics which confirms the swift reversal in Scotland’s labour market recovery. Over seven and a half years since the recession took hold, Scotland’s unemployment rate is still precisely 50% higher than its pre-recession trough.”

Stuart Mackinnon, an advisor for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland, said:

“While the proportion of people in employment in Scotland remains high, there’s obviously work required to tune-up the country’s economy and give firms the confidence to create jobs.

Lastly, these Scotland-wide figures don’t reveal wide local variations in job prospects and prosperity. Efforts to look at the performance of local economies need to be top of the agenda at next year’s Scottish elections.”

However, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training Roseanna Cunningham said:

“I am pleased to note the increases in the employment level.

“Although more work is required to ensure more young people find employment, it is good to know that 34,000 more people aged between 16 and 24 have found work since last year and that Scotland continues to perform better than the UK as a whole on this crucial indicator.”

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