We need to talk about what being ’employed’ means.

Back in January, I was discussing with Seedrs investors about the future of work, but more importantly, the current situation with work.

It seems on the surface that we’re heading toward full employment, as the UK Government announces further increases in the number of us who are employed.

This statement is based on the Labour Force Survey which is managed quarterly by the Office of National Statistics.

Here’s a link to the methodology.

To save you the effort of finding the definition of employment, here’s a screenshot

People who did 1 hour of work, or work unpaid for a family business are defined as “Employed”.

This definition has been in place since 1984 when countries around the world agreed to the definition from the International Labour Organisation, so this isn’t a statement of anything more than making sure we all appreciate the wide definition of what “Employed” means in these statistics.

When you then consider why more than 4m workers in the UK live in poverty, and more than 5m small businesses struggle to find staff with the right skills, while more than 800,000 job vacancies continue to be unfilled, there is clearly a significant amount of untapped potential in the labour market.

There are several other indicators that show record employment figures only tell us part of the picture of what work means for many including rising number of people using food banks, the increase in people rough sleeping and record use of payday lenders.

We have a problem with work, and we need a frank, honest discussion about the realities of the problem, not just wave headlines statistics as demonstration of success.

Further evidence of this to consider is that over half of workers (53%) believe that getting the right people with the right skills will be the biggest issue faced by their workplace in the year ahead.

This is why supporting people to take part in new types of work – while work rapidly keeps changing – is becoming an imperative.

If the narrative “everything’s great because we’re all ’employed’ and therefore people don’t need support” perpetuates, people will continue to lack financial security.

People will continue to feel left behind.

Frustrated. Angry. Lost. Without hope.

We started Stay Nimble to help people untap their potential.

By making key career services and guidance expertise widely available and affordable.

To create a new way of thinking about work and careers, and help people more easily reinvent themselves through learning.

To stay relevant – not just economically, but above all socially – you will need the ability to constantly learn and to reinvent yourself, certainly at a young age like 50. – Yuval Noah Harari

Author: Dominic

Dom has spent the last two decades supporting organisations, coaching individuals and building software applications to make business better. Trained as an occupational psychologist, Dom extended study into Learning and Development as MCIPD. He formed Stay Nimble in response to rapid technological change and believes that each of us has unique ability that can be directed to navigate whatever the future holds. He’s a Fellow at the RSA.

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