Job vacancies posted in the UK fell to their lowest since mid-January, suggesting that the hiring spree seen since last summer has diminished.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)’s labour market tracker shows there were 172,000 new vacancies posted between 21 and 27 March – 25% fewer than the previous week. Overall there were 1.83m active job adverts.
“The jobs market has been super-heated in the first few months of this year, and was always likely to stabilise in the spring. We may be seeing the first signs of that now. Over the next few weeks, we will see whether this is the cooling we expected, or a slower market developing as employers factor rising inflation into their plans,” said REC chief executive Neil Carberry.
“Businesses are having to work harder than ever to hire the staff they need, but it is possible to hire if you get your offer right. Consulting with recruitment experts about your approach, including broadening your search, making job ads more attractive and offering enhanced flexibility and benefits can all help, without breaking the bank.”
John Gray, vice president, UK operations at Emsi Burning Glass, which provides the job advert data for the tracker, said: “Whilst we’ve seen this levelling off occurring since the start of March, in the last week there has been a significant drop, from over 235,000 new job postings in the week beginning 14 March, to around 172,000 in the following week.
“Tracking job postings continues to be the best way to understand current employer demand, and the next few weeks of tracking this should give us a clearer picture of whether the latest decrease in postings is a short-term blip, or whether it indicates the start of a new phase in employer uncertainty, caused by numerous factors such as rising inflation and energy costs.”
The roles that experienced the greatest increase in demand between the weeks beginning 14 and 21 March included hairdressers and barbers, with job adverts rising 9.4%; vets (8.3%); photographers (7.2%); bar staff (8.4%); and waiting staff (6.6%). Demand for many of these roles plummeted in the early stages of the pandemic as much of the hospitality and leisure sector was forced to close.
Last week saw a significant drop in demand for driving instructors (adverts down 9.7%); postal workers and couriers (6.3%) and roofers (4.7%).
Carberry said it was positive to see vacancy numbers recovering in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Five of the top ten hotspots for job vacancies in March 2022 were in Scotland and three in Northern Ireland.
The next few weeks of tracking this should give us a clearer picture of whether the latest decrease in postings is a short-term blip, or whether it indicates the start of a new phase in employer uncertainty.” – John Gray, Emsi Burning Glass
The largest increases in job adverts last week was seen in Westminster (+17.7%), followed by West Dunbartonshire (+13.2%) and Highland (+10.7%), while the largest decline was in Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames (-11.0%).
Despite hiring appearing to cool off in many sectors, some are still struggling to attract employees. The Airport Operators Association (AOA) has waned of long queues at airports over the Easter holidays as members had struggled to hire for new roles following redundancies and staff departing to other industries during the pandemic.
Chief executive Karen Dee said airports were “working with the UK government to resolve any delays in the necessary checks before staff can start work”.
Kevin O’Reilly from specialist aviation and airport recruitment company One Resourcing told the BBC that recruiting for the aviation industry had become harder this year.
“A huge number of people left the aviation industry due to the pandemic and whilst many have come back, many have found alternative positions in other sectors and do not want to risk returning to work in an industry that made them redundant,” he said.
“Now there’s a bounce-back from having no people travelling, to suddenly everyone wanting travel.
“Recruitment at airports doesn’t happen overnight, people must go through a thorough security vetting process to get an airside pass.”