Number of skilled vacancies increases as economy continues to recover

2 Jul 2021 By Jessica Brown

Data reveals total job postings now exceeds pre-pandemic levels, but experts warn there is ‘work to be done’ to ensure roles are filled

The number of vacancies for skilled occupations is growing as the economy recovers from the pandemic, according to new data.

During the week of 21 to 27 June, there were 1.55 million job adverts in the UK and almost 200,000 new job postings – more than before the onset of lockdown in March 2020 –  according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) latest Jobs Recovery Tracker.

During this period, there was higher demand for roles in the education sector, as well as more adverts for professional and skilled occupations.

The data showed there was also a higher rate of growth in job postings in industries that were shut during the pandemic, including the hospitality and leisure sectors. 

Last month, data from the Office of National Statistics showed that unemployment in the UK fell for the fourth month in a row in April this year. The unemployment rate also dropped to 4.7 per cent over this period, compared to 4.8 per cent in the three months to March. 

But there is work to be done to ensure these vacancies were filled, said Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC. 

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“Sustained momentum in our jobs market is great news, but vacancies and unemployment don’t just resolve themselves – it takes support to help people find their new role. 

“Rising job adverts for roles that require key skills to get hired – from IT to haulage – highlight the ongoing need to put the skills and job search support people need in place. Tackling this mismatch, in the context of a tightening labour market, should be a priority for government and businesses, working together.

“We need to act now to make sure we do the right thing for jobseekers and our economy. That means a plan that reforms the skills system by listening to business about what is really needed, like changes to the apprenticeship levy. It also includes ensuring job search support programmes are effective and get people to work quickly. 

“And it should acknowledge where shortages are so severe our only option is adding roles to the immigration shortage occupation list, which is overdue a refresh.”

Jon Boys, labour market economist at the CIPD, pointed out that while the data showed more job adverts in leisure and hospitality than pre Covid, there were still far fewer workers than before the pandemic. 

"Furlough kept affected sectors in suspended animation. We’re now experiencing the reanimation of the economy and a return to the low unemployment era of pre-Covid times. This is especially good news for workers in in-demand sectors, but a headache for employers struggling to find staff. 

“This is unsurprising as at this time we still have restrictions, large numbers unvaccinated – especially younger workers who dominate hospitality – and rising case numbers from the Delta variant. Further easing on 19 July will likely see more hiring in these sectors and businesses I have spoken to are hoping for a good trade this summer.

"In addition to the bounce back from shut sectors there are sectors like IT and logistics which may be seeing increased demand to cater for the new normal of increased homeworking and online shopping.

“Skills supply to meet this new demand can’t be so readily increased. Immigration is one way to achieve this, but training and development of existing staff is another. In the meantime we are likely to see wages increase in these sectors."

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