Commenting on the ONS Labour Market statistics for October 2021, BCC Director of Policy, James Martin, said:

“With the number of employees working in the UK economy at the end of September climbing back to pre-pandemic levels, the overall UK labour market is showing some recovery. Businesses who have shown innovation and creativity to survive and rebuild from the pandemic should take much of the credit.

“But there remain very real difficulties under the overall numbers, with labour and skill gaps, rising cost pressures and an increasingly onerous tax burden showing that the Government needs to act now to improve business conditions.”


“Today’s figures show a second month with a record number of vacancies, now at more than a third above their pre-pandemic levels. With Brexit and the pandemic driving a more deep-seated decline in labour supply, businesses throughout the UK tell us they cannot access the skills they need even as their costs balloon.

“These recruitment difficulties are likely to dampen the recovery by limiting firms’ abilities to fulfil orders and meet customer demand. Business investment will then suffer, curbing any chance of a prolonged recovery.

“Expanding the Shortage Occupation List will help businesses access the skills they need when they can’t recruit locally in the shorter term, supporting them to create a truly high-wage and high-productivity economy in the longer-term.”

End of Furlough

“Furlough ended in September, and the impact of that decision may not be fully picked up in the latest data. Skills mismatches are very likely to limit how many of those seeking jobs after furlough can move into available roles.”

Read the full ONS statistics here.