Upturn in hiring as thousands of new jobs announced

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There is a ‘slow but sure’ improvement in hiring across the UK and thousands of new jobs have been announced over the past couple of days.

The companies behind the HS2 rail project, which begins construction today, expect to create around 22,000 jobs over the next few years, while Amazon has announced plans to recruit 7,000 people and the Co-op intends to create 1,000 jobs at 50 new stores.

However, there was more bad news for the high street and the aviation sector as Costa Coffee announced job cuts and Virgin Atlantic said it would make 1,150 more redundancies on top of the 3,500 already announced.

HS2’s main works contractor for the West Midlands, the Balfour Beatty Vinci joint venture, has said it expects to be one of the biggest recruiters in the West Midlands over the next two years. It requires up to 7,000 employees to complete its section of the HS2 route and plans to focus its recruitment efforts on attracting women and under-25s.

Another joint venture group working on the project, EKFB, said it would recruit more than 4,000 people over the next two years for its section, while Skanska Costain Strabag; Balfour Beatty Vinci Systra; Align JV and Mace Dragados JV; will collectively recruit more than 10,000.

A further 500 people will be recruited into Birmingham-based roles by HS2 directly.

Online retail giant Amazon has also announced plans to create 7,000 jobs to meet booming demand. It has recruited an additional 3,000 so far this year and hopes to finish 2020 with a workforce of more than 40,000.

Amazon’s new vacancies will span 50 sites and will include engineers, graduates, HR professionals, IT specialists, health and safety professionals and finance specialists, as well as warehousing and distribution staff.

According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the number of active job postings reached 1.12 million in the final week of August, around 26,000 more than in the first week of the month.

However, CV-Library claimed that job applications fell by 8.2% in August, despite a 2.8% month-on-month increase in the vacancies published on its job board.

CV-Library CEO Lee Biggins said: “It’s surprising that applications have dropped so significantly; especially given that the government’s Job Retention Scheme is coming to an end in a matter of weeks now.

We can’t assume an upturn in hiring means we are out of the woods, given the likely scale of job losses this autumn as firms adapt to the new reality,” – Neil Carberry, REC

“However, it’s important to remember that August is typically a slower month for hiring. It’s vital that employers don’t lose faith in the job market. While applications have dropped, businesses should continue with their hiring efforts throughout September, and we should see some improvement in the coming weeks.”

Neil Carberry, REC chief executive, said he expected to see more recruitment activity as schools and workplaces reopened.

“The trend of improvement in hiring we are seeing may be slow, but it is sure,” he said. “But we can’t assume an upturn in hiring means we are out of the woods, given the likely scale of job losses this autumn as firms adapt to the new reality.”

Carberry said more support for firms was needed. “Government needs to work with the jobs specialists of our world-leading recruitment and staffing sector to deliver support to jobseekers urgently and encourage firms to hire. Supporting jobs through a cut in employers’ National Insurance and more flexibility in training support would both help to increase hiring activity and, more importantly, build business confidence.”

Meanwhile Costa Coffee said yesterday (3 September) that up to 1,650 roles were at risk of redundancy because of reduced trading activity.

It said the assistant manager role would be removed in each of its branches across the UK and it had frozen all pay increases within its support centre.

“We have had to make these difficult decisions to protect the business and ensure we safeguard as many jobs as possible for our 16,000 team members, while emerging stronger, ready for future growth,” the company said.

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