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1.65m jobs advertised in the UK - but 1m roles remain ‘in peril’

Recruitment postings soar due to labour shortages with photographers, farm workers and plasterers all in demand 

In the three weeks since Covid restrictions were lifted the UK’s jobs market “continues to boom” as employers “struggle to fill vacancies” for in-demand roles, Yahoo Finance reports.

According to data released by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) there were 1.65 million active jobs listed in the first week of August – the second highest weekly figure since December 2020.

There have been “near-record numbers” of new job adverts being posted online, the REC said. In the last week of July there were 213,000 new postings, the highest weekly figure since mid-May, and this was followed by 204,000 last week, the fourth highest weekly figure since the start of the pandemic.

Adverts for photographers, audio-visual and broadcasting equipment operators rose by 19.3% while insurance underwriter positions had a significant 15.5% increase. 

The number of postings for farm workers rose by 9.2% as the harvest season continued, and there was also growing demand for plasterers (+8.2%) and painters and decorators (+4.7%). This surge comes as British householders look to renovate their living spaces, Yahoo said.

Shortage of workers

UK recruitment has “bucked the traditional summer lull in job offers”, the FT reports. But agencies have warned of “staffing shortages across the economy as employers sought to fill roles”.

Kate Shoesmith, deputy CEO of the REC, said the number of new job adverts has “continued to ramp up” since July. Employers are “desperate to find good staff to help them recover and grow in the coming months” and recruiters are “working flat out to help find the best people”. 

However, there are shortages of workers in almost every sector across the country. “This is starting to translate into higher pay and better benefits for some workers in particular sectors, which is great for people looking for a job,” Shoesmith added. 

“Employers also need more support from government, including an effective, long-term plan on skills. We mustn’t overlook the thousands of workers who need a chance to skill up and improve their earnings but this alone won’t meet demand. We also need an immigration system that has the flexibility to meet employers’ needs.”

Where in the UK were job adverts posted? 

In the first week of August four out of the UK’s top ten “hiring hotspots” were in the Northwest of England, the BBC reports. Blackpool (+5.2%) saw the highest growth in active job postings, while West Dunbartonshire (+5.2%), the Wirral (+4.9%), Norwich and east Norfolk (+4.8%) and Barnet (3.8%) were also in the top five. 

However, not all areas saw an uplift in job adverts, the REC report revealed. Four out of the bottom ten local areas for growth in active job postings were in Scotland: the Shetland Islands (-9.1%), Na h-Eileanan Siar (-8.4%), Dumfries and Galloway (-6.8%) and East Lothian and Midlothian (-6.4%).

‘Inflection point’

While the number of new job postings continues to increase, there remains uncertainty regarding workers who are currently employed. 

The Observer reports that 1 million jobs are “in peril” as one in 16 UK firms say they are at risk of closure in the next quarter. A study by the LSE’s Programme on Innovation and Diffusion (POID) warns that the risk to so many workers coincides with the planned end of the furlough jobs scheme and a cut to universal credit by £20 a week. 

Describing the end of the furlough scheme as an “inflection point” where the economy could go either way, Peter Lambert, an author of the POID research, said: “I think there will probably need to be some continuation of support in specific sectors. My bet is there’ll be more targeted support, because unless the economy really, really picks up, there’s going to be lots of people still left in the lurch in specific sectors.”

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