Number of job adverts drops to levels last seen in April

Experts say the government should take a more flexible approach filling gaps, while firms should ensure roles are inclusive and open to all candidates

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The number of job postings in the UK has fallen to the lowest level recorded since spring this year as recruitment shows signs of slowing down. 

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and Lightcast’s latest Labour Market Tracker revealed that, in the week of 19-25 September, the number of active job adverts across the UK hit a low of 1.45 million – lower than any point since the pandemic, but still a high level relative to the pre-pandemic. 

In the last week of September, 143,000 active job adverts were new postings, the lowest figure recorded for 2022, and a decrease of 8.3 per cent on the month before.

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The latest statistics marked a significant drop in job postings since the beginning of July, when there were 214,564 new positions listed weekly, compared with 143,000 currently. 

However, the analysis identified a significant increase in job adverts within the education sector as the new school starts, with an 8.8 per cent rise in demand for school secretaries, crossing patrol occupations (+7.7 per cent), teaching professionals (+6.4 per cent) and secondary teachers (+4 per cent). 

In contrast, roles among driving instructors (-15.5 per cent), ship and hovercraft officers (-12.0 per cent), and floorers and wall tillers (-11.3 per cent) saw the biggest weekly decline in active job adverts.

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Commenting on the findings, Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said that even while there remained a sizable employer demand, this cooling-off was not unexpected. 

“With inflation high and employers concerned about the economic picture, some moderation in hiring from the sugar rush of the past year was predictable. That said, we are entering a new phase in our labour market. Workforce shortages make the impact of a slowdown on hiring much more unpredictable,” he said.

Carberry added that it was "essential" for companies working with competent recruiters to modify their offer for this market, and praised the IR35 adjustments announced as part of the mini budget, as they would "bring more labour on stream”.

He also suggested that the government needed to “address the other key elements of making the UK a great place to invest and create jobs”. 

But, Nicola Inge, director of jobs and skills at Business in the Community, highlighted that while the number of job ads had decreased on the levels seen during the summer months, they remained “exceptionally high”.

Inge acknowledged that while the cost of living crisis was affecting employers and job seekers, right now businesses that were recruiting needed to make sure their roles were “inclusive and open to all candidates including those who often face disadvantages when job hunting”.  

James Reed, chair of Reed, agreed that despite the decrease, numbers were still high and said while the job boom that started six months after the pandemic was likely coming to an end, “there are still lots of vacancies, certainly compared to the pre-pandemic numbers, and that’s why we’ve seen unemployment continue to go down.”

Reed added that the obvious question was what happens next, and whether there will be a job slump. “Whether or not this happens will only become apparent in the coming months as more data becomes available – it’s a space we’re watching closely,” he said.