June 16, 2020

600,000 roles go during Covid-19 lockdown

600,000 roles go during Covid-19 lockdown

According to official figures, between March and May, the number of workers on payrolls in the UK fell by 600,000 and the number of people claiming work-related benefits went up 126%. Economists also believe that the full consequences of the current state of unemployment will be felt when wage support schemes end in October. Figures published by HMRC have in fact revealed that 9.1 million workers are covered by the UK government’s furlough scheme, which equates to more than a quarter of the workforce.

Whilst the current situation has strained both the economy and workers on a more personal level, Peter Siminski and Emil Temnyalov believe that now is the perfect opportunity for people to upskill. “From a human capital perspective, the crisis presents a unique economic opportunity to retrain and upskill the labor force. Economists have long observed that investment in human capital (education, skills) tends to increase during recessions, because well-paying alternatives for how to spend our time are scarce. In the current recession, the opportunities for training are even greater. Even those workers who remain employed but have little to do can use the downtime to invest in training,” Siminski and Temnyalov write in their opinion piece.

Even though businesses across the country are gradually reopening, according to some economists, unemployment could reach 10% later in the year due to social distancing rules remaining in place and consumers being mindful of spending. “It's clear […] that this crisis is hitting many poorer areas hardest—with coastal towns and ex-industrial areas seeing particularly big increases in unemployment. If the public health crisis is just starting to ease, […] the unemployment crisis is only just beginning," said Tony Wilson, director of the IES.

Read Peter Siminski and Emil Temnyalov’s opinion piece 200 billion hours to spend: The Covid-19 opportunity to upskill.

Read more Covid-19 content on IZA World of Labor. You can also find our recent opinion pieces on the pandemic and its effects here.

Photo credit: J J Ellison.