CIPD Voice: Issue 24
Before the onset of Covid-19, employment in the UK was at a record high. New analysis, which was used in our submission to the Work and Pensions Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry into DWPs preparations for changes in the world of work, showed that the UK economy generated an additional 3.4 million jobs between 2011 and 2019. And contrary to the narrative that the future of work consists of more insecure, poor quality and low wage work, the data shows that growth in employment was primarily high-skilled and permanent. Indeed, employment increased fastest in managerial and professional occupations, whose numbers grew by 27% and 23% respectively. In contrast, employment growth was slower (or non-existent) in low-skill occupations – apart from care work.
The growth also shows, as history has previously illustrated, that technological change can generate a high number of jobs as well as destroy them. This is because technological innovation tends to reduce costs, expand existing markets and open up new ones. It is also due to the expansion of high-skilled occupations such as programmers and software development professionals, whose numbers have grown by 74%. On the downside, technology is also part of the explanation behind the decline in a number of other occupations, such as clerks and retail staff (see table below).
Employment change by selected occupation, UK, 2011-2019
|Occupation||Jan 2011-Dec 2011||Jan 2019-Dec 2019||% change|
|2136 Programmers and software development professionals||222,400||386,900||74%|
|1135 Human resource managers and directors||131,100||217,300||66%|
|3538 Financial accounts managers||106,700||176,300||65%|
|8212 Van drivers||181,200||283,100||56%|
|1131 Financial managers and directors||232,300||352,400||52%|
|7112 Retail cashiers and check-out operators||232,000||178,500||-23%|
|9251 Shelf fillers||109,000||80,300||-26%|
|4215 Personal assistants and other secretaries||248,000||173,000||-30%|
|4123 Bank and post office clerks||143,900||96,600||-33%|
|4112 National government administrative occupations||239,600||141,400||-41%|
Only occupations where employment in 2011 was greater than 100,000 are reported
Source: Annual Population Survey
- 1135 Human resource managers and directors (see above)
- 3562 Human resources and industrial relations officers
- 3563 Vocational and industrial trainers and instructors
- 4138 Human resources administrative occupations
Looking ahead, 2020 will see this period of employment growth come to an end. It is impossible yet to say what this will mean for employment in HR, however the demands on HR departments appear to have changed but not diminished, even if staffing isn’t immune from wider changes in organisation context and priorities.
Gerwyn Davies, Labour Market Adviser
Gerwyn is the CIPD’s Public Policy Adviser for a wide range of labour market issues. With lead responsibility for welfare reform, migration and zero-hour contracts at the CIPD, Gerwyn has led and shaped the policy debate and achieved substantial national media coverage through various publications. These include Zero-hours contracts: myth and reality (2013) and The growth of EU labour: assessing the impact on the UK labour market (2014). In addition Gerwyn authors the institute’s high profile and influential quarterly Labour market outlook report. Gerwyn is an experienced labour market commentator, making regular appearances in the national media and on other public platforms, including several appearances before the House of Commons Work and Pensions select committee.
Mark Beatson, Chief Economist
Mark's role includes leading the CIPD’s respected labour market analysis and commentary, while also strengthening the CIPD’s ability to lead thinking and influence policy making across the whole spectrum of people management and workplace issues.
Prior to joining the CIPD, Mark was an economic consultant and for over 20 years worked as an economist in the Civil Service, latterly at Chief Economist/Director level, in a range of Government departments including the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and HM Treasury.