The number of job vacancies rose above 1m for the first time ever, according to the latest Office for National Statistics jobs data published this morning.
Key points from this morning's report:
- The number of job vacancies in June to August 2021 was 1,034,000, and is now 249,000 above its pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic January to March 2020 level.
- The unemployment rate fell from 4.7% to 4.6% in the three months to July.
- August payrolls showed a further monthly increase of 241k to 29.1 million in total.
- Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 8.3% and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 6.8% among employees for the three months May to July 2021.
Reaction from small businesses
Reflecting on the data, Kieran Boyle, Managing Director at Gloucester-based CKB Recruitment, says he has "never seen such a busy jobs market in my 15 years in the industry”, something mirrored by Gary Parsons, Managing Director at Belper-based recruitment and HR experts, Talk Staff: “We are seeing a record number of jobs out there but businesses are struggling to secure the talent they need.”
Wake up and smell the coffee
Though the jobs data paints a pretty picture on the surface, there are serious underlying issues. Kate Underwood of Southampton-based Kate Underwood HR & Training, talks of the “massive skills shortage due to Brexit and the Pandemic. I have recently had 200 people apply for a role in less than six hours and 100 of them had the skills to do the job.”
She adds that "the tax hike in April is going to put a lot of employers off taking on new staff, especially among small businesses who were hardest hit by the pandemic. The Government has failed to understand how it will impact those that are already struggling. It needs to wake up and smell the coffee."
The Great Resignation
Karen Watkins, founder of Somerset-based Rowan Consulting, also points to problems in the future: "The next major inflection point for the jobs market will be the Great Resignation. People are now choosing to leave employers through choice rather than necessity to pursue new goals and working environments after the pandemic. This has the potential for a bigger longer term impact than the end of furlough. For companies, meaningful employee engagement and retention have never been more important."
Cheney Hamilton, CEO at Darlington-based flexible working recruiter, Find Your Flex, is also witnessing the result of pandemic-induced job changes: “We are seeing spikes of job seekers, in particular in London. This is a result of offices re-opening and the proposed 9% rise in rail fares.”
Translate: people aren't so keen on being chained to their desks all over again and paying daft money to get into London on the Choo Choo.
Chancellor wades in
Whenever positive data drops, the Chancellor will wade in to take full credit as sure as night follows day, and so Rishi emerged from Number 11 in clockwork fashion to announce that “today's statistics show that our plan for jobs is working.”
Working for now, Rishi.
The fact remains that we've the furlough scheme is coming to an end this month and tax rises are kicking in next year, which will hit small businesses hard. The jobs market may have won this latest battle, but the war is far from over.
Full reaction from the Newspage community below….