Area focus: South West pt. 1 – The big stories
While economic growth across the UK remains stagnant, the South West region continues to set itself apart as one of the better areas and an example of where we need to be to clear austerity. The South West is consistently in the top three regions year-on-year for the healthiest application per job statistics, and the latest Totaljobs barometer stats for 2013 places the South West above Northern Ireland with 9.6 applications per job, the best in the UK.
The highest unemployment rate in the UK still belongs to the North East region (9.8%), while the South West registered a rate of 6.1%, an increase from 5.5% in Oct-Dec 2012 but still the best in the UK. However, like all regions there are areas of concern, and the growing amount of Green Energy companies going into administration could cause the unemployment rate to increase.
The big stories
As mentioned, the South West has seen a few casualties within the green energy industry, which according to Totaljobs regional sales manager Richard Collins, can be attributed to “Government grants running out and cash flow within the companies becoming a problem.” Consequently, this has led to a loss of jobs within the sector as 29 members of Enact Energy Renewables were made redundant last week.
A further 200 jobs are set to be cut at Ashfield prison in Bristol when it re-launches as a category C prison. Following a review by the National Offender Management Service, they saw the original 391 employees as surplus to requirements and have made the actions to cut it down to 197.
One particular story that does generate a large amount of concern for the region, is the new government law to increase the qualifying period for protection against unfair dismissal. Devon Business News believes that this could threaten up to 38,000 jobs and introduce a more flippant ‘hire and fire’ culture within the county and the region as a whole. Nigel Costley, South West TUC’s regional secretary said:
“Cutting back on protection against unfair dismissal will do nothing to boost the economy. If people are constantly in fear of losing their jobs it will lead to even less consumer spending, and losing your job is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone, especially when unemployment is so high.”
On a more positive note, the slight rise in unemployment in April 2013 can be linked with the amount of people willing to try different sectors and getting part-time work rather than not working at all.
Jo Long of Expectations! Recruitment Services in Gloucestershire said: “Current trends indicate that part-time vacancies are filling very quickly, with growing numbers of applicants for each job; this suggests both that the workforce is willing to accept any work be it full or part time as well as indicating a growth in the number of women and semi-retired professionals re-entering the workforce.”