New job vacancies in early February 2023 topped a quarter of a million, driven by strong demand for construction workers and tradespeople.
The latest labour market tracker from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and labour market analyst Lightcast showed that there were 256,855 new job postings in the week of 6-12 February 2023, the highest recorded since the bodies started collecting this data in January 2022.
This figure was 26.8% higher than the week before and 22.4% more than the same period last year.
There were 1.3 million active job adverts, a significant recovery from the week before where there were around 80,000 fewer job postings available.
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Occupations that saw a notable increase in demand included floorers and wall tilers, which recorded a 52.7% increase in demand, as well as painters and decorators (43.1%), telephonists (23.9%), construction operatives (23.5%), and carpenters and joiners (22.8%).
Driving instructors were less in demand than the previous week, with 23.4% fewer job adverts posted, as were weighers, graders and sorters (22.3%), veterinarians (21.3%), packers, bottlers, canners and fillers (17.3%), and veterinary nurses (16.6%).
Elena Magrini, head of global research at Lightcast, said: “One of the most interesting subsets of the data is the growth in demand for construction jobs. At a time when organisations such as the Construction Products Association are forecasting a fall in construction output of 4.7% in 2023, we might have expected to see a slowdown in demand for these jobs. However, it seems that for the time-being at least, employers in the construction industry are still seeking large numbers of new workers, suggesting that the predicted downturn has not yet been reflected in a slowdown in recruitment activity.”
REC chief executive Neil Carberry said the increase in job postings was likely to have been driven by a stronger than expected start to the year.
“Construction is perhaps the most reactive sector to changes in economic weather, so the sector bouncing back now is a sign of renewed hope, as well as new projects getting underway in the spring,” he said.
Carberry warned that the labour shortages driving this buoyant labour market were not sustainable.
“The economy stands to lose up to £39 billion in GDP every year from 2024 unless business and governments act on labour shortages. We hope the chancellor will put people issues first in his Budget next month by addressing key issues, such as childcare, skills and infrastructure,” he said.
Hiring ‘hotspots’ included Falkirk, which saw a 16.3% increase in vacancies being posted, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (15.5%), Walsall (15.4%) and Solihull (14.6%).
Areas that saw the greatest drop in demand included Medway in Kent, which recorded a 3.2% decline in job adverts, Hertfordshire (down 2.6%) and Bromley (down 1.7%), although these drops in demand are fairly minor.
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