Businesses rushed to hire more staff as they prepared for the easing of lockdown measures that came into play this week.
Companies across the UK posted 181,000 new job adverts in the first week of May, following a post-pandemic record of 211,000 new job listings in the final week of April.
According to the REC’s Jobs Recovery Tracker, this meant there were a total of 1.53 million active job postings in the UK in the first week of this month.
Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said: “The jobs data continues to give us good news for the recovery. Since governments across the UK announced plans for easing lockdowns, we’ve seen a robust and rising rate of new job ads being posted.
“As restrictions ease, those numbers have continued to rise. Business leaders are feeling more confident now than at any point during the past year.”
Unsurprisingly, job listings were dominated by sectors where activity has been heavily curtailed throughout the pandemic.
Teachers and other education professionals were the profession with the highest weekly increase in demand during the first week of May, with listings up 22.1%.
There was also strong growth in jobs for hospitality and leisure workers, with bar staff ads up 17.5%, waiting staff demand up 9.9% and hotel and accommodation manager listings rising by 10.3%.
The REC data was backed up by research by job search engine Adzuna, which said that hospitality and catering jobs had risen by 188% in the seven weeks to the first week of May.
It said the sector was seeing the fastest recovery by some distance, with logistics and warehouse, retail, legal and manufacturing roles making up the rest of the top five sectors for growth in job listings.
Andrew Hunter, Co-founder of Adzuna, said the rapid hiring in recent weeks had led to “hot competition” for staff, particularly as many hospitality and retail workers had left the industry over the past year.
He added: “There are also far fewer foreign workers seeking employment in the UK, with overseas interest in UK jobs more than halving from before the pandemic, hitting these industries hard. UK employers can no longer rely on overseas workers to plug employment gaps.”
The shortage of candidates in some of the sectors currently seeking staff was also noted by Matthew Mee, Director of Workforce Intelligence at Emsi, which works with the REC to produce the Jobs Recovery Tracker.
“With the workforce shrinking significantly over the last 12 months (a combination of Covid, furlough and Brexit), we’re hearing strong anecdotes from our recruitment clients of an increasingly tight labour market in a number of sectors – particularly those that aren’t currently listed on the Skilled Worker Occupation Shortage list.”
Recruiters ‘sought after’ partners
While this supply/demand imbalance may be bad news for companies in some sectors, it appears to be good news for the recruitment sector as firms look for help sourcing staff.
The latest Recruitment Trends Snapshot report from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) reported “massive spikes” in year-on-year vacancies and placements in the professional recruitment sector.
It found that while permanent vacancies were down slightly in April when compared with the previous month, they were up 90% year on year, while contract roles rose by 83%. Permanent placements were up 82% on the same basis, while contract roles rose by 68%.
Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, said: “This data points very clearly to the ongoing value of the recruitment sector to the economy as organisations look for help to find the right skill sets.
“While the last year has been very tough on business and there has undoubtedly been redundancies, the annual increases in vacancies show that while there may be more candidates on the market, professional sectors still have niche skill shortages, and our profession will continue to be a sought after expert partner to help source those skills.”
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