Are we becoming a nation of grocers once again?

Like all good businesses that seek to measure how they are performing, every quarter we review our success in helping our clients who have been made redundant to find new work.

We also look at what trends might exist and what they tell us about the job market.

If you believe what you read in the papers, you might think the job market is hopeless; that there are no jobs to be had.  This week’s news of jobless totals up at 2.56 million seems to support that view.

Our statistics tell a different story.  Three things leap out at me:

  • Around 50% of delegates secure another external role in just 3 months.
  • There is a clear and steady preference among a growing proportion of our delegates (24-25%) to get some form of self-employment going.
  • Very few (less than 8%) opt to retrain or get additional qualifications.

Our delegates come from all walks of life, all disciplines, all levels, with varying ages and backgrounds.  The scary thing about today’s news is that of the 2.56m out of work, about a third of them have been out of work for more than a year, and just under a million are in the 16-24 age bracket.

Our statistics and the latest figures combine to tell us some simple but important things:

  1. Contrary to popular myth, the good news is there are jobs out there!  It is how you set about landing them that makes the difference.  With the right skills in the business of job searching, using social networking effectively, building confidence and belief in yourself and selling your capabilities well at interview, everyone made redundant is capable of finding another job.  But looking at the government’s increasingly depressing statistics, it seems the government’s Work programme is just not working.
  2. We may be moving back to a ‘nation of grocers’.  Self employment is becoming a more popular option because
  • the internet allows anyone to produce a website very quickly and get out into the market with what they have to offer
  • the ‘short term’ nature of decision-making currently prevalent in our businesses and organisations due to economic uncertainty means contract work is a viable, even attractive alternative to full-time contracts that then come to an end – and from the delegate’s viewpoint: who wants to be made redundant twice?
  1. Every day we hear that a university degree is unlikely to open doors to work, and many graduates are in jobs they could have got at 16.  So our delegates are asking:  why bother?  Latest figures show youth unemployment is rapidly approaching 1 million.  This suggests our education system churns out qualified people yet UK plc doesn’t have a job for them.  Add to that the cost – of training, of student loans, of managing without a regular wage coming in and sadly education becomes a huge risk.  What will this mean for our longer term future workforce capability?

This all adds up to some big issues for the government to tackle.

Often, and perhaps surprisingly, redundancy can be the shock that triggers positive action. Many of our delegates achieve improved packages and greater satisfaction in the new role compared to the one they just left.  There is nothing new in this – although a hard experience to go through, handled well and with the right support it can be a good thing to break a bad habit – and as our research has shown, for some work becomes exactly that.

Sarah Chiumento

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