By Max Clarke

The Office for National Statistics' (ONS) latest Labour Market Statistics, to be released on the 19th January, will be widely watched with many experts predicting a tough year ahead. The latest gloomy research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggests unemployment among those eligible to work will increase to from 7.9% to 9%, and Tuesday’s news from the British Chamber of Commerce predicts a tough year for the services sector, which comprises 76.2% of the national GDP.

Of the services sector, Financial Services account for 10% of the total UK GDP and employs 1 million (of 31 million employed) people in the UK, with 32% of these in London.
It is thus essential that quality vocational qualifications, such as apprenticeships be made available for new entrants and, we believe, to graduates in the job market. Employer-hosted programmes could boost the skills of an entire youth generation whose current precarious outlook questions its ability to lead the country forward.

From its UK Sector Skills Assessment report for 2010, Sarah Thwaites, Director of Skills Development at the FSSC, says:

" Our sector will continue to adapt to the economic climate and regulatory environment during 2011, focusing on the skills that will be needed to succeed. Firms responding to our recent survey which asked about their recruitment plans for the next twelve months saw only 35 per cent planning to increase headcount. Firms are still grappling with a difficult trading environment and are not prepared to increase fixed cost. Aggressive hiring is a thing of the past or limited to very specific areas and roles.

We expect employment growth in Financial Services to turn positive in 2011 however we don't expect employment to regain the jobs lost during 2008/9. Whilst in accountancy and finance we expect to see further 1.2 per cent decline in employment in 2011."

The competitiveness of the British economy is dependent upon harnessing the talents of a rich and diverse talent pool across the UK. The onus is on businesses and education training providers to be more creative and flexible with jobseekers.