Lessons From the Cities with the Lowest Unemployment Rates

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Finding a meaningful career, climbing the ladder, and living a satisfactory lifestyle are all possible in the UK.

While there are many domestic international students who flock into the country to pursue their careers development, unemployment is an issue in the UK, just like in the majority of countries in the world. And while some cities and areas have managed to achieve lower unemployment rates, others are suffering more from the problem.

Let’s look at the cities with the lowest rates of unemployment to see how we can improve the employment landscape and attract the best talent.

The unemployment landscape in the UK

For the period December 2021–February 2022, the overall unemployment rate for those aged 16+ in the UK is 3.8%. This is a 31.58% decrease from the same period in the previous year when the unemployment rate was 5%. Similarly, the employment rate in the UK increased by 1.07% for the same time period.

The English regions leading in the unemployment rate chart are the North East (5.5%), London (5.0%), and West Midlands (4.9%), according to the Labour Force Survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics. The regions that are best tackling unemployment are the South West (2.8%), East Midlands (3.1%), and East (3.1)

In terms of UK’s cities and largest towns, York (2.6), Exeter (2.9), and Cambridge (3.3) are priding themselves on the lowest rates, according to the Centre for Cities. But how are these cities thriving in terms of employability, and what can other cities and organisations learn from them?

Expanding areas and sectors

Employment opportunities are definitely there. The number of job vacancies in January to March 2022 rose to a new record of 1,288,000. This is a 102.51% increase since the same period the year before. The industries that have increased their vacancies between September 2021 and November 2021 are education, construction, wholesale and retail trade, and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles.

So what is causing unemployment? One of the reasons is that job vacancies aren’t distributed proportionally within the UK based on the strengths of each region or city.

York has one of the lowest unemployment rate and is developing its rail network in order to expand the rail sector. It’s also investing in biotech and agricultural research.

Cambridge is also a city that’s investing in local areas successfully. With an unemployment rate of 3.3, the city, which is world-renowned for its university facilities, has been growing significantly. It’s projected that the number of jobs will rise by 22% in Cambridgeshire between 2011 and 2031. There are already over 1,500 science- and technology-based companies, echoing the area’s investment in IT and technology.

Ann Dowdeswell, Sales and Marketing Director of the leading work uniform supplier Jermyn Street Design, commented: “The investment in areas of growth not only opens new job opportunities but also attracts students who can excel in those sectors after completing their education. Firms specialising in those sectors can also benefit from investing in locations where the industries and flourishing. This will feed into other promoting the growth of other external aspects of the business, such as supply chains, sourcing staff uniforms, and logistics. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

Investing in education

Investment in education and additional training is another factor that’s impacting the low unemployment rate in cities like York, Cambridge, and Exeter. This will help with labour mobility, which is the ability to switch jobs and sectors by possessing transferable skills.

Currently, there is a severe skills shortage in the UK, and it’s the most severe one on record. That’s why, it’s really important to target employees right away and teach them the skills needed to promote labour mobility. In a recent KPMG pulse survey, 70% of the surveyed companies said that they found it difficult or very difficult to attract and retain employees. Flexibility in terms of skills and career development is also critical, according to 50% of the respondents.

Education and additional training can help increase job satisfaction and result in a happy workforce that’s willing to stay in a job for longer. York, for example, launched its One Year Skills Plan, Helping People Through Change: Skills for Employment in York, to help both businesses and residents adapt to the changing work landscape amidst the recovery from the pandemic.

What can also be beneficial in terms of overcoming sector-specific shortages in an ever-changing environment is upskilling. According to the 14th ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage survey, conducted in Q3 of 2021, the three most in-demand roles in the UK are operations/logistics, manufacturing/production, and IT/data. These sectors are dependent on digitisation and technology, which some employees might lack the knowledge of. That’s where certifications, programming courses, and apprenticeships can help.

The key to tackling unemployment in the UK is through investment in expanding specific regions and sectors and in upskilling employees. It’s our responsibility to lay the basis for the UK’s workforce to succeed and uplift the economy.














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