Businesses still desperate for staff despite economic volatility, data shows

Leaders are becoming ‘more adept’ at hiring through periods of uncertainty as economists reassure it is still a candidate's market

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Businesses are still desperate for staff despite economic and political volatility, new data suggests.

Labour market analysis from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) revealed a dip in new job postings in the week of 17-23 October with 154,000 ads posted - 3.4 per cent lower than a month earlier.

However, the REC and Lightcast’s latest Labour Market Tracker revealed that despite this, in the previous week of 10-17 October, there were 217,000 new job postings.

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Gemma Dale, business lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, said that the labour market is displaying a “mixed picture” depending on what sector you look at, adding that the results are expected.

“Given the very recent volatility in the financial markets, along with increasing inflation, interest rates and cost of living, it is perhaps to be expected that some employers will be taking a cautious approach to new hires and delaying recruitment decisions at this time,” said Dale, adding that she would expect the hesitancy to continue, “especially given predictions from the Bank of England today that we could be facing a long recession”. 

The analysis found that the number of active postings remained “relatively stable” with between 1.4 and 1.5 million active adverts since mid-August.

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Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC said the data showed some indication of “greater volatility” driven by political and economic uncertainty, however, a severe labour shortage is “counteracting these cynical characteristics” forcing businesses to hire even when growth has slowed. 

Lauren Thomas, European economist at Glassdoor said that despite the slowing of the economy, it is still a “job seekers’” market, but warned of more uncertainty to come.“While job vacancies have remained high and unemployment low, the economy is also highly uncertain,” said Thomas.

“September research from Fishbowl by Glassdoor showed that mentions of layoffs have increased 81 percent since February 2022, reflecting the concerns that many workers (and employers) feel.”

The REC also found that the education and childcare sectors had the most notable job advert increases, and that regionally the North West held three out of the 10 recruitment hotspots. Meanwhile, seven out of the UK’s bottom 10 hiring hotspots were in Northern Ireland.

Simon Roderick, managing director at Fram Search said the UK is suffering a “huge” skills shortage and said ever-changing Government policy “doesn’t help”. He added that despite this, “most business leaders have become adept at looking past short-term issues and innovating to pursue growth”.

However, Becky Schnauffer, head of clients EMEA & LATAM at Linkedln, said businesses are “desperately looking” to solve shortfalls in talent, and warned that those who lag behind on recruitment will miss out.

“Businesses simply cannot afford to miss out on recruiting top talent, and they will struggle to do so if they compromise on key value propositions that will attract candidates,” said Schnauffer, who highlighted that scaling back on flexibility and professional development in response to this economic crisis could “create a disconnect between what companies are offering, and what people want in a post-pandemic world”.