The UK labor market is beginning to thaw, with recruiters reporting their strongest permanent recruitment recovery in six years in March as businesses prepared to lift quarantine measures.
A monthly survey conducted by IHS Markit for consulting firm KPMG and the Confederation of Recruitment and Employment showed the first increase in permanent staff appointments since December, with the highest proportion of recruiters since April 2015 reporting growth from the previous month.
Recruiters also reported accelerating growth in temporary accounts and the sharpest increase in total job openings since 2018.
To date, the survey is one of the strongest signals that businesses are becoming optimistic enough to recruit new employees now that the government has developed a roadmap for economic recovery from the lockdown.
The latest official data showed that employers froze hiring plans for the winter while job vacancies remained significantly lower than before the pandemic, but data released in real time by the National Statistical Office shows that job postings online have risen to levels seen on the eve of the first blocking.
“Even during the lockdown, our job market was recovering,” said Neil Carberry, CEO of REC, adding that the first signs of recovery in the London job market were “a sign that business confidence is starting to return.”
Sustained recruitment recovery will be critical if the UK wants to recover from the pandemic without serious economic scarring. So far, the government’s layoff program has helped limit job losses, with the unemployment rate dropping to 5 percent even as the winter quarantine resumes. But due to the lack of vacancies, those who have lost their jobs find it difficult to find a new one, and unemployment among young people entering the labor market has risen sharply.
However, recruiters no longer see an increase in the number of people looking for affordable jobs. KPMG / REC survey respondents said that while job losses increased the number of candidates, concerns about job security made those who were still working reluctantly to seek new positions. Brexit and new rules governing work outside wages have also led to a reduction in the number of candidates for temporary positions.
The KPMG / REC study found that the largest growth in job vacancies was in the nursing and nursing and information technology sectors. However, it also suggests that hospitality businesses have started recruiting employees again, as well as returning employees who spent most of the last year on vacation.
The only sector where recruiters saw weaker demand for both permanent and temporary staff was retail. However, numbers published separately on Indeed’s job site showed stronger hiring growth from retailers ahead of next week’s secondary stores opening next week, with job openings rising to 14% from pre-pandemic levels by early April. …
Indeed, among the non-food retailers posting the newest vacancies since February, along with the shoe chain Clarks, the fashion brand Primark, which does not sell online, was indeed named. But it says growth in retail jobs continues to lag behind demand for loading, warehousing and driver jobs, suggesting employers weren’t expecting a return to online sales.