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Job Vacancies Highest Since Omicron Wave Began

The economic recovery that was cut short by the Omicron variant has returned. There has been an increase in job adverts for every type of role across the UK, with job postings continuing to rise through January and February. A reverse on most January-February trends.

In the last week of February, there were around 1.8 million active job adverts in the UK – up by 8.6% from the previous week and by 41.5% from the same period in January, report the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

The number of job adverts in the UK has been steadily growing since the beginning of 2022, as the Omicron wave receded and hiring activity ramped up. According to the REC, there were 224,000 new adverts posted in the week of 21-27 February – the highest weekly figure since early December.

The REC suggested that the gradual return to offices and other workplaces could also be increasing demand for some roles. Childminders saw an increase in demand of 16.8% from the previous week, while adverts for mobile salespeople with rounds, including those selling food and drink to office workers, increased by 23% week-on-week.

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Businesses surveyed said need to recruit new staff to meet growth targets in 2022.

Business growth requires recruitment

Almost one in three mid-sized businesses say they will need to recruit this year to support their growth objectives, but many struggle to find candidates with the right skills.

40% of organisations surveyed are worried about finding employees with the skills they need, and 35% report a lack of staff who can work the hours their business requires – rising to 40% of firms in retail and wholesale.

A third (32%) say they need to recruit new staff to support their growth trajectory, but for companies with an annual turnover of between £10m and £50m, the proportion is 43%.

Two years after Brexit, 32% are concerned by a shortage of workers from overseas – particularly firms in the North East (45%) and North West (33%). The shortage of overseas workers has meant a quarter of businesses will rely on a more significant proportion of domestic hires this year.

Many of the 500 medium-sized businesses polled are also struggling to access apprentices, with 31% citing a shortage of apprentices as an issue affecting their hiring plans.

To entice candidates and retain existing employees, 23% say they will introduce new perks and 21% will be more flexible in the working practices. Pay is also increasing rapidly, with 16% stating that they are paying staff more to keep up with rising inflation and 17% doing so to attract and retain talent.

This comes as the CIPD found average pay awards are set to hit 3% this year, although this is likely to be swallowed up by inflation which is set to hit 7% by the spring.

Despite the hiring struggles and increased costs they face, 60% of the firms polled say they will return to pre-pandemic revenues in the next 12 months.

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