As I have been quick to criticise businesses for expecting to find ready-made, fully skilled-up people for their niche jobs, rather than investing in creating the skills they need through training, then I should give credit to companies showing some initiative.

Step forward Toyota Manufacturing UK, which joined forces with companies in its supply chain and local area to create 21 four-year engineering apprenticeships last September – and is so pleased with the results, it plans to increase the intake this year.

Toyota opened its apprentice development centre in Burnaston, Derbyshire, to other companies after linking up with Semta, the skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing, the National Apprenticeship Service and Burton and South Derbyshire College.

Mark Evans, Toyota Manufacturing UK’s recruitment section manager, says the project benefits Toyota’s supply chain and other engineering companies. “We supported the seven companies involved through the selection and recruitment process. Six of them were hiring apprentices for the first time.”

Each candidate received an induction at their host company and at Toyota’s centre before embarking on their apprenticeship, which offers a mixture of classroom and on-the-job training, leading to a Level 3 National Vocational Qualification in engineering maintenance.

Salaries falling
Salaries listed in job advertisements have sunk to a 16-month low, according to the latest UK Job Market Report from Adzuna.co.uk, a jobs search website.

Its figures show advertised UK salaries have fallen 4.1 per cent to an average of £32,323 in the 12 months to December – a drop of £2,136 in real terms, it says.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, adds: “The recovery in the jobs market is far from over. The great news is unemployment has fallen at record levels, but wages are still stuck in a post-recession hangover. Compared with this time last year, there are fewer people fighting it out for each position, but the chances of securing a decent salary have become slimmer.”

Positive start for bonuses
It might be from just a small sample but data from Emolument.com show the 2014 bonus season in the financial services sector is off to a positive start.

The firm, a real-time bonus and salary benchmarking site that uses data provided by individual professionals, has examined figures from 137 employees working in financial services in London who have received their 2014 salary and bonus details – mainly working for American employers.

Emolument.com says two thirds of employees are receiving the same or more in bonuses than last year, with 53 per cent receiving an increase compared with last year, 15 per cent seeing no change and 32 per cent receiving less.

Robert Benson, Emolument.com’s chief executive, says: “London bonuses at US firms are up, a ripple effect from the 2013 uptick in activity across many business lines. We are keeping a keen eye on upcoming European numbers which, although likely to be more modest, should also improve on last year.”

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