The REC has launch their Manifesto Dynamic Labour Markets for Growth. This document has come at a critical time as the UK jobs market has been remarkably resilient, but shortages, technological changes, skills shortfalls and lack of support for workers all hold British businesses back. Workers’ pay, and the government’s tax take also suffer. The impact of this is evident in poor productivity performance, and high levels of economic inactivity.

“It’s only by driving growth that we can build more of the successful businesses we need,” says Neil Carberry, REC Chief Executive. “Firms who pay people well, help to fund public services and bring the tax burden down. In a big, open, services-led economy such as the UK, real change takes all of the talents of these islands – creating opportunities to work, progress and innovate. This matters more now than ever before.”

Carberry says that any incoming government needs to address ‘the people stuff’ to make progress. “For too long, our thinking in this area has been one-dimensional, and overshadowed by the ideas of the past or the dry gloom of think-tanks,” he says. “But recruiters are optimists about work in Britain. If we can unlock the potential of our labour force, we could add £39bn of growth every year to our economy. Over a decade, that kind of premium would be truly transformative – more leading companies, better paid staff, more sustainable public finances and better public services.

“Our manifesto provides creative and robust policies to solve deep-rooted problems in the labour market caused by a smaller labour force, a skills system that isn’t meeting employer needs and businesses who are still too hesitant to invest,” adds Carberry. “The manifesto takes a people-first approach, because when we enable our workforce to make a difference, we know they get the job done.”

In its manifesto, the REC says politicians need to:

  • Understand the labour market we have and the flexibility people want by acknowledging people want different forms of work, and welcoming that diversity of options. For too long Whitehall and Westminster have acted as though the only type of job that matters is a permanent job, employed full-time. A new government can underpin this by conducting the first Workplace Employment Relations Study in over a decade and building on it to deliver a genuine workforce plan for the UK. One that brings together a long-term and pragmatic set of options on skills, immigration, transport and other key issues.
  • Support our transition to new skills and new jobs by empowering local leaders to act on skills, in partnership with companies and local skills providers, such as colleges. But they must do this in a way that is always focused on the economy, We need tobuttress this with the immigration policy we really need to drive prosperity – and be honest with people about the trade-offs. Alongside this, embedding skills of the future around AI and Net Zero in both our education system and our approach to business will be vital. An AI assurance framework designed to make the UK a world leader is a key step.
  • Act to support productivity and tackle inactivity by reforming the failed Apprenticeship Levy in the first 100 days to underpin a skills revolution. And supporting workers with transport and childcare policy that links to their needs. We also need to support more efficient public services though procurement reform which will save money and cut NHS waiting lists.
  • Ensure regulation is fit for the future by regulating to support workers however they work. That means finally delivering a well-funded Single Enforcement Body so that compliant firms are protected alongside workers from those who ignore the law. This should include regulation of the whole supply chain – especially umbrella companies and joint employment models. It means finally overhauling the rules around off-payroll working (IR35).

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