HR jobs market continues to boom

HR jobs in recruitment and consultancy enjoy a boom


Overall picture

The millennium year has seen a growth in advertised personnel posts of almost a third over the previous twelve months and more than ten times as many jobs as at the start of the decade. This is a picture of quite staggering growth in opportunity over the last ten years.

At a business or organisational level, this mirrors the continuing increase in complexity of employment requirements, the growth of legislation enforcing good practice and the focus on people as resource and capital within businesses. The continuing pressure on the public sector to follow business management models has also put pressure on people as a resource and highlighted the importance of effective personnel management. The historical moves from welfare to admin to the more recent aspirations of strategic partnership were accompanied by a drive to recognise the need for professionals in the function which is reflected not only in the rise of national advertising levels but in the achievement of chartered status by the IPD last year.


In the April survey, it was noted that the steady growth in advertised jobs was interrupted by an increase in the recruitment growth rate between mid ’97 and mid ’98 (presumably following the election of the new Government) It is now apparent that this was followed by a dip in advertising up to mid ’99 then by upward growth, which has been particularly strong from the start of the millennium year.

This national picture is reflected generally across the regions although there is some variation in terms of how strong the dip following the increase was. In most cases advertising did drop below the average growth line before increasing the rate of climb from the New Year.

Employment sectors

The range of economic activity and consequent job opportunity across the UK is extreme, with London and the South East advertising a hundred times more personnel jobs than Wales and almost nine times as many jobs as the next largest recruitment area which is the West Midlands.

The employment sector analysis indicates a general picture of growth since 96 or 97 although some sectors seem more immune to fluctuation than others. For example, the unrelated sectors of the London boroughs, charities and communications, show steady growth with much less of a ‘97/’98 increase, ’98/’99 decrease than most of the rest of the employment sectors. Electronics and IT dipped slightly in 1999 perhaps in anticipation of the millennium bug work reducing after the start of the New Year, however, growth has been very strong in this industry in 2000. Education however is still in a decline that started in 1988 and shows no sign of upturn.

The biggest employers by a long way are professional services, finance, electronics and IT with the local authorities, retail and communications also substantial recruiters of personnel staff. Security, environment and defence are very small-scale employers.

Role types

In comparison to an average increase in advertising this year of almost 30%; recruitment related jobs have grown by over 80% which indicates a shifting emphasis at the moment into this area. There is also strong growth in consultancy (65%) and growth in management roles generally.

Over 50% of the jobs advertised this year are still in generalist personnel; training and development are second at 19.5% and consultancy advertisements comprise 14% of the total. The rest, trailing in rank order are: recruitment, compensation and benefits, IR, equal opportunities and lecturing. The breakdown within consultancy of generalist, training and recruitment follows the same pattern as above.

The medium term advertising profile tends to be the same within job types and follows the national profile described above. The exception is consultancy (except for recruitment consultancy, which as you would expect reflects the general recruitment trend). Otherwise, consultancy shows steady and continuing upward growth.

Advertisements for lecturing jobs have dropped steadily since 96, in the face of dramatic growth in personnel jobs advertised (which should presumably mean more students studying the subject). It is possible that this reflects the general drive to reduce or refocus staffing costs taking place in education.

Reward policy varies significantly across employment sectors. Consistently paying top salaries are electronics/information technology; communications; finance and professional services. At the bottom of the reward ladder are health authorities and charities. Generally public sector salaries lag private sector ones.

The biggest average salary increase for the second year running is for personnel directors. The biggest average salary decrease is for lecturers (although these are very small numbers). Recruitment consultancy shows a big decrease in average salary too, alongside a big increase in posts which may indicate that the nature of recruitment consultancy is itself changing.

In summary, this year’s winners are personnel directors (highest salary increase); electronics and information technology, finance and communications (highest salaries generally) and recruitment and consultancy (biggest increase in posts advertised).

This year’s poor relatives are lecturers (few and getting fewer); education (declining opportunities); health authorities (lowest pay) and Wales (nice place but still not many jobs).

Commentary by : Amanda Molyneaux Bsc(Hons),MA

This is the opening commentary of the latest Salary Survey Publications analysis of the HR job market. For the full report call SSP on 01488 72705

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