There are 24 applicants chasing every low-skilled job vacancy, according to the latest Labour Market Outlook from the CIPD and The Adecco Group.
This compared with a median of 19 candidates for medium-skilled vacancies, and eight for high-skilled vacancies, according to the quarterly survey of more than 1,000 employers.
The survey also reveals that employment levels are likely to grow strongly in the third quarter of this year, with the “net employment balance” increasing to +27 from +20 in the past three months.
This measure shows the difference between the proportion of employers who expect to increase staff levels and those who expect to decrease in the third quarter.
However, pay award expectations remain low for the next 12 months at just 1%, according to the Labour Market Outlook.
The CIPD/Adecco Group attribute this to a number of factors, including sharp growth in the number of non-UK nationals from the EU and an increase in older workers and ex-benefit claimants in the employment market.
And despite the increase in labour supply, employers often struggled to find the right applicants. Overall, employers felt that around half of applicants were suitable for each role they were recruiting for, the survey found.
The increase in the number of applicants chasing low-skilled vacancies may be due to a rise in roles being advertised for high-skilled individuals, which accounted for a large share of the number of jobs created during the past year.
Almost a quarter of companies in the private sector (23%) said that the requirement to pay the National Living Wage had slowed pay growth overall, while 21% said they were concerned about future access to labour via the EU single market.
Around three-quarters of public sector employers (72%) said they continued to face pay restraint.
Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market analyst for the CIPD, said: “Predictions of pay growth increasing alongside strong employment growth is the dog that hasn’t barked for some time now, and we are still yet to see tangible signs of this situation changing in the near-term.
“The facts remain that productivity levels are stagnant, public sector pay increases remain modest while wage costs and uncertainty over access to the EU market have increased for some employers.
“At the same time, it is also clear that the majority of employers have still been able to find suitable candidates to employ at current wage rates due to a strong labour supply until now.”
Alex Fleming, president of general staffing at The Adecco Group UK & Ireland, added that “context is important”.
“Employers continuing to hire isn’t, necessarily, an indication that they are convinced of a bright economic future, rather that nothing significant has changed in recent months,” she said.
“Many employers are getting on with the day-to-day hiring required to keep their businesses ticking along until they have enough information to build concrete recruitment plans.
“Overall, our labour market picture looks promising especially considering the unknown future impact of Brexit on the flow of talent in and out of the UK. Strong labour supply is a key contributor: the long-term unemployed are finding work more quickly and the amount of workers aged 50-64 who are in employment has risen by around 200,000 during the past year.
“However continued subdued wage growth that the labour market is currently facing is a real issue that employers need to tackle head on. Employers must invest in staff to increase productivity, thus in turn providing them with the opportunity to increase wage growth.”