Job advert growth shows ‘no signs of slowing’ before Christmas, research finds

Experts advise firms to consider the benefits they are offering candidates, and call for businesses and government to collaborate on ‘skills revolution’

Job postings have continued to remain at a record high, research has found, with key worker roles increasing at the start of November. 

A study of adverts, conducted by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) as part of its Jobs Recovery Tracker, found that there were a total of 2.68 million active postings last week.

This included around 221,000 new job postings in the UK in the first week of November, the fourth-highest weekly figure since data collection for the tracker began at the beginning of 2020.

The REC’s analysis said that the growth in job adverts showed “no signs of slowing down in the build up to Christmas”, despite concerns about increases in the cost of living and the continued Covid cases. 

But, commenting on the data, Jonathan Boys, labour market economist at the CIPD, advised that “record numbers of vacancies does not mean there are a record number of jobs.”

Instead, he said, it meant that lots of employers were looking at the same time as the economy reopens and unemployment is expected to remain low.

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 Boys added: “Worryingly, there’s a trend of people leaving the labour market completely, transitioning from employment to a state of inactivity,” explaining that a number of older workers were taking early retirement or entering inactivity as a result of illness or disability.

To combat this, firms need to carefully consider their employment offer and look at a range of benefits beyond salary, according to Boys, such as training and development opportunities and flexible working options.

This advice was echoed by Kate Palmer, HR advice and consultancy director at Peninsula, who told People Management that recruitment managers “must proactively identify their target employees’ priorities and tailor their job advertisements to include these areas”.

She also suggested firms think about offering joining bonuses and higher base rates of pay as well as using “creative” recruitment strategies, such as the use of social media, which can help attract new talent.

“The Christmas period poses an exceptionally busy time for many organisations, ​​leading to an increase in job advertisements to ensure they can meet customer demand,” she explained.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, added that it was “vital” the government put measures in place to help companies invest with confidence as recruitment recovery continues, “increasing productivity and helping the economy to grow”.

“That includes a revolution in the skills system, especially focused on helping those furthest from the labour market into work,” he explained, adding that the best way to achieve this is through collaboration between business and government.

The research noted that the largest increase in vacant jobs during early November was seen among driving instructors, increasing by nearly a third (32.3 per cent) from the last week of October. Prison officer postings saw the next largest rise, having increased by 13 per cent. 

There was also a rise in adverts for key workers such as forklift truck drivers (9.1 per cent); secondary school teachers (9.1 per cent); care workers (7.1 per cent); and goods packers (6.8 per cent).

However, there was a decline in postings for a number of construction sector jobs from the last week of October, including painters and decorators (17.8 per cent); roofers (13.4 per cent); plasterers (11.3 per cent); bricklayers (11.3 per cent); and carpenters (9.1 per cent). 

The REC said there were decreases in adverts as a result of supply chain delays and labour shortages which put constraints on the building industry.