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Signs of recovery in UK jobs market?

By Dawn Gibson


Salary increases and rising vacancies are injecting optimism into the UK job market despite continued lockdown restrictions.



Adzuna’s latest figures show that advertised UK salaries have grown despite Covid-19, averaging £37,223 (+6.9%) in December 2020 compared to £34,811 in December 2019, as employers seek senior staff to see them through pandemic pressures.



While the job platform’s analysis found advertised vacancies fell 29.5% in December compared to December 2019, Adzuna Co-Founder Andrew Hunter pointed out that overall vacancies had increased slowly but surely throughout 2020 following the initial pandemic-induced collapse. “Despite lockdown restrictions and Brexit uncertainties, the headlines report job openings at around 70% of normal levels in December 2020,” Hunter says.


New hiring trends


“But the fine print shows a huge shake-up of the types of jobs on offer. The first major change is the redistribution of hiring from industry to industry, with the Logistics & Warehouse and Manufacturing sectors hiring at pace, while other sectors remain weak. In Hospitality & Catering, there are only a fraction of the roles available compared to a year ago, with nearly three-quarters of opportunities having gone.



“The second switch is a renewed focus on hiring senior staff and a pulling back on entry-level openings. This is reflected in low graduate opportunities available and rising average advertised salaries despite lower total vacancy counts.”



London financial sector continuing to hire


The Morgan McKinley Winter London Employment Monitor indicated that the city jobs market has remained resilient, despite the triple threat of the pandemic, Brexit trade deal and U.S. elections. While year-on-year vacancies plunged by 36%, the quarter-on-quarter decrease was just 2%.



Hakan Enver, Managing Director, Morgan McKinley UK said: “Q4 ended with jobs seeing a small decrease of 2% which continued to counter the massive drop of 60% in Q2. This shows real resilience and steadiness in stark contrast to the beginning of the year when overall numbers for 2020 fell dramatically compared to 2019.”



“Banks and financial service firms have fared well by adapting quickly. Many employers are focusing on hiring when needed and feasible. We’ve seen growth in IT, marketing, and digital roles, whilst auditors outside the big 4 have also been in demand.



“The financial sector is continuing to hire and we are seeing a renewed optimism as we head into 2021.”



Did jobseekers take December off?


Against a backdrop of rising unemployment, the number of people applying for roles in December was the lowest in five years, according to new data from Broadbean, with 2.2 million job applications made. It highlighted a 34% drop in the number of people applying for jobs last month when compared to the same time in 2019, 45% fewer applications than in December 2016, and vacancies down 32% year-on-year.



“What is interesting – and perhaps quite unexpected - is that jobseekers were seemingly missing from the market in December,” said Alex Fourlis, Managing Director at Broadbean Technology. “Our data shows a divergence from the normal seasonal fluctuations we see at the end of the year and, due to the effects of Covid and the extension of the furlough scheme, this past December saw a large decline in jobseeker activity. Looking forward, however, it is encouraging to see that 2021 has got off to a good start with vacancy levels up when compared to the middle of December.”



The REC is bullish – their latest data crunching concluded that vacancies increased by 10.5% in December compared to December 2019 on the back of a boom in adverts for healthcare and construction roles. “The potential for a strong bounce-back after the vaccination programme is rolled out is there,” said REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry. “Jobs are still being created all over the country.”


Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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