Employment levels could reach 30 million before 2015, the CIPD has predicted in a new report

Employment numbers in the UK could reach record levels over the next two years, according to a new study.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) estimates that the number of people in work will hit 30 million before 2015 comes to a close.

There were 29.6 million people in employment in the three months to October of this year - an increase of almost half a million compared with 2011, according to the latest figures.

The CIPD predicts that this growth will continue over the next 12 months.

Analysts believe that the Government might be able to celebrate the historic milestone of 30 million people in work before the next general election, which is due to be held in two years' time.

However, the CIPD's study of the jobs market also found evidence of excess capacity at some companies, with many employers reluctant to let go of skilled and talented staff.

The group warned that this may lead to weaker employment growth in 2013, even if the UK's economic outlook improves.

CIPD chief economist Mark Beatson said one of the most mystifying economic features of 2012 had been the so-called "jobs enigma" - the strong growth in private sector employment, despite an absence of sustained economic growth.

He highlighted the importance of flexibility in the labour market but said under-employment could not fully explain the trend for rising overall employment levels.

Mr Beatson said: "While there are undoubtedly significant numbers of people working fewer hours than they would like, and this is an issue that merits further investigation and consideration by policy makers and employers alike, the numbers have not increased significantly this year, making it a poor explanation on its own for the 2012 jobs enigma."

And the country's jobs market could prove equally difficult to predict in 2013.

Mr Beatson added: "On balance, there are likely to be further increases in employment. Rising employment alongside muted growth indicates that employers have significant reserves of skilled labour capacity on which to call to support growth."

Copyright Press Association 2012