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Highest employment rate in UK since records began in 1971

The UK’s employment rate has reached its highest point since comparable records began in 1971, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics figures for the quarter January to March 2015, published today, reveal the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work was 73.5%, with the number of people in employment reaching 31.1m.

Meanwhile, the number of people out of work in the quarter fell to 1.83m, down 35,000 from the previous quarter.

Commenting on the figures Seb O’Connell, executive vice-president and managing director for Europe at global talent acquisition and management specialist Cielo, said a more buoyant job market will mean employers will need to redouble their employee retention efforts.

Companies need to ensure they double their efforts to retain their people by providing a visible career path and a thought-through and authentic employee value proposition that appeals both to potential new employees and the critical existing employee base,” said O’Connell.

But Ian Brinkley, chief economist at Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation and independent authority providing advice, consultancy and research on the future of work, says the new Conservative government still needs to work on more effective ways of helping people into work.

Brinkley said: “These are very positive overall labour market figures, with strong growth in employment and rising wage levels in the private sector, especially in construction and hospitality.

“However, the impact on unemployment levels has been almost non-existent, especially for the young, and this could be a warning sign that underlying structural problems are re-emerging,” he added.

An important priority for the new government must be to ensure that the unemployed are given more effective support to find work, otherwise employers will increasingly turn to other sources – including migrants – to fill the vacancies on offer.”

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