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European Edition
13th October 2021
UK job vacancies hit record high
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that job vacancies hit a record high of almost 1.2m in September. The data also reveals a 207,000 increase in the number of people on payrolls, with the total hitting a record 29.2m. This is 120,000 above pre-pandemic levels and up 207,000 on the previous month. The report shows that vacancies grew across most sectors in the three months to September. While unemployment continued to fall, hitting 4.5% in September on the back of a 0.4% decline, the rate is likely to increase due to the furlough scheme winding up at the end of last month. The analysis found that average weekly earnings in the June-August period were 7.2% higher than in the equivalent three months of 2020, down from the previous reading of 8.3%. Excluding bonuses, earnings rose by 6.0%. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The number of expected redundancies remained very low in September, there are more employees on payrolls than ever before and the unemployment rate has fallen for eight months in a row." Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “The jobs market has continued to recover from the effects of the coronavirus, with the number of employees on payroll in September now well exceeding pre-pandemic levels." Reflecting on the ONS data, Yael Selfin, chief UK economist at KPMG, said the end of the furlough scheme “could briefly raise the headline unemployment rate, which could average 4.9% for 2021 as a whole, representing a smaller impact than originally expected.”
Employers urged to consider hiring people with limited Swedish skills
Employers have been urged by Sweden's jobs agency to consider hiring people with limited Swedish skills to fill vacancies, as new stats show a labour shortage amid falling unemployment. A total of 388,000 people were registered as unemployed with the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) at the end of September, 77,000 people fewer than the same month last year – a fall from 9 percent to 7.5 percent in a year. But there’s a shortage of skilled workers, reports the service. Almost 124,000 jobs were advertised on its site in September, up from 60,000 last year and 80,000 two years ago. Employers are also struggling to fill certain entry-level jobs, such as restaurant waiting staff. One possible reason for this is that many people in the hotel and restaurant industry were laid off during the pandemic and have in the meantime found a job in another sector. More than 219,000 foreign-born people were registered as unemployed in September – down from 248,000 last year but more than the 168,000 native Swedish job seekers. More than 177,000 job seekers were born in a country outside of Europe, according to the report.
FCA staff in union petition
The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) may soon be a unionised workplace, with Unite launching a formal petition to gauge interest having seen a significant increase in FCA staff joining the union. Staff are said to be unhappy with chief executive Nikhil Rathi’s transformation plans, which they believe will see wages cut. Dominic Hook, Unite national officer, said staff at the City watchdog are “demoralised by the consultation launched by the CEO in September and feel it is a poor way to reward FCA staff who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.” Unite members are reportedly angered that Mr Rathi has proposed allowing the highest paid FCA staff to be paid more to avoid caps on the tax breaks for the largest pension pot holders.
The danger of paying lip service to the woke
The Telegraph’s Tim Stanley comments on the move by British Airways to ditch “ladies and gentleman” from its announcements as the airline strives to prove itself inclusive. Stanley asserts that “traditional approaches to the genders assign them dignity and moral qualities” while identity politics creates soulless abstractions. Boardrooms may have turned woke, Stanley continues, but “things have moved to a dangerous stage when corporations seek to improve their customers rather than the other way around.”
Private equity salaries rise to £152k
The salary for junior staff at private equity companies has risen to £152,000, a jump of 52% compared to two years ago. Data from headhunters firm Heidrick & Struggles show that in 2019, private equity professionals across Europe with only two years in the industry were paid, on average, just under £100,000 in salary and bonus. For those with two to four years of experience, a salary of around £181,000 has become the sector’s average, a jump of 42% over the past two years. Senior private equity professionals are taking home more than £512,000, an increase of 21%. The leap in salaries illustrates the intensifying war on talent in the financial services space, City AM reports.
Regulator to test firms' remote working arrangements
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is to evaluate firms considering remote or hybrid working on a case-by-case basis, saying firms will be required to prove that the remote working does not - or is unlikely to - cause detriment to consumers, damage the integrity of the market, increase the risk of financial crime and reduce competition. The watchdog said firms should be able to prove that a hybrid working model will not prevent the FCA receiving information about a company, nor will it reduce the accuracy of the Financial Services Register. Firms must also prove there is appropriate governance and oversight by senior managers under the Senior Managers regime. The FCA notes that under Principle 11 of the its Principles for Businesses, any material changes to how a firm intends to operate may require the company to notify it first.
Kenyan tea farm workers sue British company
Up to 1,300 workers on a farm in Kenya that supplies tea for supermarkets are bringing a landmark lawsuit against the British-owned tea farm to win compensation for the injuries they claim were caused by their working conditions. The plaintiffs are claiming for damages caused by negligence, arguing that workers for the British-owned James Finlay plantations in the Kenyan highlands permanently harmed their spines by being exposed to conditions that it was clear would hurt them. Gwen Morgan-Evans, a partner at Hugh James, said: "If successful, this case will set a precedent and show that British companies cannot harm their workers abroad for the benefit of profit."
Medical interns in Israel resign en masse
More than 2,500 medical interns in Israel have resigned in a dispute over 26-hour shifts that they are forced to work. In letter to Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, the Mirsham organisation of medical interns explained that it is in everyone's interest that patients in hospitals are not treated by "exhausted" and "unfocused" doctors who are too tired to provide proper care. The letter signed off by 2,590 doctors-in-training was delivered to the Tel Aviv District Health office by Mirsham head Dr. Ray Bitton. “To my regret, we have gathered here for a very sad day that has befallen Israel in which we are painfully forced to take a drastic step and present the resignation letters of more than 2,500 interns,” Dr. Bitton said outside the office. Interns recently rejected a government proposal to gradually reduce shifts to 18 hours by 2026, but only in 10 hospitals in outlying areas. The interns say they have been “abandoned” and accused Horowitz of failing in his assurances of a reduction in hours for all interns.
In world first, drones deliver from roof of Brisbane mall
Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, is experimenting with launching its aircraft from the roof of an Australia mall only steps from the stores providing goods for delivery. In partnership with Vicinity Centres, Wing has made more than 2,500 deliveries from a mall in Logan City to nearby neighbourhoods located south of Brisbane. The Wing drones can carry a cargo of a few kilograms, and up until now had transported items from coffee to snacks and even hardware such as nails or screws.

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