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UK jobs market data - your views wanted

ended 11. October 2021

The number of UK job vacancies has hit a record high, according to official figures published today by the Government.

Office for National Statistics data show vacancies rose to a staggering 1.1m between July and September, the highest level since records began in 2001.

Meanwhile, the number of people on payroll rose by a significant 207,000 to a record 29.2 million in September 2021.

In news that will doubtless please the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, this returned the number of people on payroll to pre-pandemic (February 2020) levels.

Reaction from HR and recruitment experts below…

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6 responses from the Newspage community

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Julia Kermode
Founder at IWORK
"The jobs market is completely candidate-led in sectors where there are shortages of workers. We've all seen the headlines about HGV drivers but other sectors that are starved of people include health, social care, hospitality, agriculture, distribution centres and factories. Shortages are so bad that the UK's army of temporary workers, the traditional back-stop for businesses in need, cannot meet the demand. It's incredibly competitive, with some firms opting to increase pay rates, but many businesses simply don't have pots of money to throw at the problem. But money is not the only factor to consider. Employers who are creative in how they value, support and encourage their staff, both permanent and temporary, are the ones that will succeed in attracting the talent they need."

"The job market for over-50s is looking particularly bleak right now, especially for those in middle management. Over the past two weeks, we've had over 350 enquiries to join Startup School for Seniors, from those who are expecting to be made redundant to others who are currently unemployed. Many are using this time of uncertainty to reflect and consider their options, choosing to go it alone and become self-employed."

"We have seen vacancies increase to an astonishingly high level over the past few months, the likes of which we haven't seen for many years. As positive as this sounds, all is not as it appears. There is a complete misalignment of skills available in the market and high demand in certain skill sets and sectors is creating a false economy. Many workers are simply prospecting job offers to gain salary increases with their current employers. This will be short-lived as organisations are having to become creative in their offerings, especially with flexibility at the forefront of employees' wish lists. This does, however, have the potential to cause future issues with staff that have a more flexible role compared to those colleagues who don't. The effect of these 'new ways of working' in organisations is yet to be quantified in terms of success, sustainability, profit and growth. This may be an interim way of working rather than the dawn of a new age of working."

The jobs market is in flux, with Covid still looming large in many prospective employees minds who are trying to negotiate flexibility in the way they work. As a response to lockdown it’s sensible to have home working as a dominant option for current prospective employees, but it’s too early to judge whether this is long-term sustainable. Home working isn’t for everyone, especially in employees that thrive on interaction. Home working isn’t the best solution for every employer either to keep the succession chain of a healthy business ecosystem moving forwards. There is a need to stay flexible in industries where demand is high but there is the risk of people inadvertently manoeuvring themselves into a stalemate when the business landscape shifts again.

"In the current jobs market, one thing is certain: flexibility needs to be on the table if employers want to attract the best talent. Job vacancies are at an all-time high, and those employers working with us to increase their flex appeal are offering both training to those re-careering and are also offering homeworking and flexibility to experienced hires who prefer and increasingly demand it. It's a great time to be a jobseeker right now, and we encourage women in particular to vocalise their worth and needs to potential employers right now."

"As a supplier of staff to the social care and education sectors in the North East, we have seen a distinct decline in candidates looking for work. There is significant demand for support workers and care assistants at the moment and there simply aren't enough candidates to fill those jobs. Working in social care already demands flexibility and long working hours, and because of the climate, employers in social care are looking for candidates who already have experience and are able to hit the ground running. There simply aren't enough candidates able to do this to fulfil demand right now."