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Unemployment falls by 5,000, ONS figures reveal

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The number of people who are unemployed fell by 5,000 from November 2012 to January 2013, figures published today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have revealed.

There are now a total of 2.51 million people unemployed in the UK.

The figures also showed there are 29.76 million people in employment aged 16 and over. This is up 24,000 in November 2012 to January 2013, compared with the previous three months and up 432,000 from this period a year earlier.

Total pay rose 1.3% in February to April 2013 with the same period a year earlier.

Speaking to HR magazine, Tom Lovell, group managing director at job site Reed, said even though the figures don't show a "significant drop" in unemployment, they "point to a recovery".

"It comes down to confidence among employers and confidence among employees. It's important we continue to see jobs advertised if we're going to continue heading in the right direction."

Lovell said the UK jobs market is in a "transitional phase" but did point to positive stats from Reed's job site. It currently has the highest number of job vacancies available since 2008 and there has been a month-on-month rise of 7% in people getting interviews.

Lovell also said the sectors enjoying the most notable growth were the education and health and medicine professions - both experiencing annual growth of around 60%.

Bernard Brown, partner and head of business services, KPMG management consulting, said despite the rise in employment there is still a concern around "candidate capability".

"No organisation will - or should - fill vacancies for the sake of plugging a gap," Brown said.

"The dilemma they face, however, is that without enough staff in place, productivity will continue to suffer and, with the wrong staff in place, productivity could decline.

"Perhaps the answer lies in a dual strategy - on one hand organisations should continue to invest in recruitment."

He added: "Yet at the same time they need to ensure the staff already at their disposal are skilled sufficiently to do the jobs they have today, whilst also being readied to do the jobs of tomorrow."