UK jobs market
UK job postings soar to record high after Easter break. Reuters

Following the Easter holiday, the UK's job market shows hopeful signs of recovery as new job postings flood the market. In the week leading up to April 24, companies resumed hiring, resulting in a record number of new job postings. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and Lightcast's latest Labour Market Tracker reports that there were 189,832 new job posts for the week of April 17 to 24, 2023, which is a significant increase of 31.8 per cent compared to the previous week (April 10 to 16).

Moreover, during this period, no county or unitary authority experienced a decrease in UK job postings, indicating a promising outlook for the job market. However, while the surge in job postings is a positive development, there are still areas of concern. The report highlights that some industries, such as IT engineers and attorneys, experienced a drop in job postings.

With the ongoing strain on consumer spending experts warn that the UK economy could potentially lose billions annually if action is not taken to support high-demand industries. As the landscape shifts, it's essential to ensure workers have access to in-demand fields to keep the economy moving forward.

The number of active postings for the same week, leading to April 24, was 1,696,319, an increase of 4 per cent from the previous week and 19.5 per cent from the same period one year earlier (April 18 to 24, 2022). Since January 2022, the number has remained constant and above 1.4 million.

Even before Easter, some employers, in trying to mitigate the impact of the rising energy costs, had halted their recruitment of new staff, and others are downsizing their workforce. No county or unitary authority, according to the report, experienced a decrease in UK job postings between April 17 and 24, 2023.

The demand for jobs in some industries, such as dental professionals (+13.2%), collection salespersons and credit card agents, who visit private homes to get orders and collect money for goods and services (+18.4%), and glaziers, window fabricators and fitters (+12.6%) have experienced substantial growth.

Additionally, fabricators and windows installers (+12.6%), advertisements for telephonists (+10.3%), authors, writers, and translators (+11.1%), mobile machine operators (+12.4%) and other roles also experienced significant growth.

On the other hand, floorers and wall tilers (-11.6%), driving instructors (-4.5%), jail service officers or below principal officers (-4.1%), attorneys (-2.0%) and IT engineers (-1.8%) all had significant weekly drops in their job postings.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland has been one of the top hotspots for hiring in the UK during April 17–24, accounting for six of the top 10 spots. The areas that saw the most significant increase in UK job postings were Causeway Coast and Glens (+16.1 per cent), Fermanagh and Omagh (+12.2%), Derry City and Strabane (+11.8%), Antrim and Newtownabbey (+10.4%), Newry, Mourne and Down (+10 per cent), Lisburn and Castlereagh (+9.7%). In recent months, there has been an increase in demand in Northern Ireland for secondary school teachers, software developers, lawyers, cleaners, and domestic help.

While in other places like Bexley and Greenwich, REC noted they did not experience an increase in job postings. Camden and the City of London (+0.3%), Solihull (+1.1%), Westminster (+1.3%) and Cambridgeshire CC (+1.2%) experienced the lowest increases.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of REC, posited that while the labour market remains in good shape, they observed that there is a pretty consistent pattern of demand in the labour market after smoothing out the week-to-week volatility caused by bank and school holidays, with 180,000 to 200,000 new openings every week and more than 1.4 million active job adverts.

However, Carberry said they are starting to notice more variation in demand. Their members noted that while the market is still in better shape elsewhere, there are fewer openings in the major industries that have been robust since the start of the pandemic, such as logistics, driving and food. Similar to how advertisements by collection salespeople and credit card agents have increased, the consequences of the strain on consumer spending can be seen when consumers turn to lower-cost purchasing and spread out payments further.

Due to the shifting landscape, Carberry advised that it is more crucial than ever to make sure workers have access to high-demand industries. Without action from industry and government, he said the UK economy might lose up to £39 billion annually starting in 2024 – the cost of two Elizabeth Lines.

Regarding the lack of teachers, Carberry said the report demonstrated how the demand for educational positions has increased in several regions of the UK since February 2020.

He further revealed that teachers experience "a double whammy" because their pay has stagnated, and they are losing classroom assistance, such as teaching assistants and modern technology, because of a squeeze on school budgets. Schools are finding it harder to hire this year with more than 46,500 job adverts, which is "after the double-digit percentage rise in education vacancies we reported last month."