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UK labour market - tight or loose?

Hi,  am studying CIPD Level 5 HRM. I am a bit confused as my course provider tells me that tight labour market conditions occur when unemployment levels are low. At the same time they say that the UK labour market is generally loose. The unemployment level in the UK is at its lowest point since 1975 and it has been this way for a few years now... (at least since 2015). My understanding therefore is that the UK labour market is tight and not loose since most people are in jobs and companies have to compete harder to attract best talent. Would you be able to shed some light on this? Is the UK labour market tight or loose? I am a bit stuck here so any insight would be much appreciated!

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  • Hi Oktawia and welcome to the forums. "The labour market is tight (or loose)" is a bit like saying "vegetables are expensive". Tightness/looseness is about supply and demand, and unemployment levels are only part of the equation. People who are in work but looking for a move or willing to move are also part of the supply part of the equation. The UK has a long standing tradition of job mobility compared to a country like France (where people are, traditionally, less willing to move), so in that respect the UK labour supply market is more fluid/loose than the French one.
    Equally, some segments of the market have a large available pool of labour - waste collection, for example, where the job can be learned in a matter of hours. Compare this with airline pilots and brain surgeons where supply is not high, and has a lead time of several years schooling/training. In this respect the brain surgeon market is much tighter.
    Geographically, markets can be very different - heavy demand for taxi drivers in big cities, but not on small islands.
    Take these principles and try to develop a few more examples and variations.
    All the best
    Ray
  • In reply to Ray:

    Hi Ray
    I would like to use part of your reply as a quote "The labour market is tight (or loose)" is a bit like saying "vegetables are expensive". Tightness/looseness is about supply and demand, and unemployment levels are only part of the equation" would you be okay with this? if yes what is your surname so I can reference it properly?
  • In reply to Julie:

    I'd be honoured Julie - I must admit to having been overwhelmed when this post got 34 likes.
    I'm Ray Naylor, retired, ex Senior Group Compensarion Manager for Engie.

    PS the students on the MBA course in international HR on whkch I teach regularly quote 2 other remarks

    "There is no such thing as 'best' practice', only 'context-relevant' practice" AND (more obviously) "context is king"
  • In reply to Ray:

    Thank you Ray I am currently studying my level 5 CIPD HR course. I have saved the other quotes in case I can use them :)
  • In reply to Julie:

    You're more than welcome Julie, and good luck with your level 5s
    Ray
  • In reply to Ray:

    This is really helpful as I am also on the same question!
  • In reply to Ray:

    Dear Ray, may I also quote you as part of my CIPD Level 5 qualification? This really does encapsulate the variety of considerations that need to be taken when looking at this subject.
  • I was taught that the Labour Market is the area from which applicants are recruited....this true? :)
  • In reply to Ray:

    Thank you for this, very interesting.