Those nice guys over at Broadbean recently carried out their annual UK Recruitment Trends Report. Unsurprisingly (given the start of the real economic recovery) the research shows that during last year we saw the total number of advertised vacancies increase by 5.5%. The bulk of that growth was experienced during the second half of the year. In each of the last 9 months in 2013 we saw vacancies in excess of the equivalent month from the previous year (after 2 of the first 3 months were actually at a lower level). This was in contrast to what we saw in 2012 where the stalling economy was apparent as vacancy volumes failed to increase year on year.
The research also looked at application levels which were high throughout the analysis period, even when they were considered on an application per vacancy basis. Based on prior experience we would expect to see these high volumes during a period of high unemployment. This would be due to the high levels of labour available in comparison to the number of available roles.
Since unemployment levels started to decline we have seen the growth in application per vacancy levels slow down and gradually decline. The fact that this tail off has been gradual is likely to be linked to the increasing confidence in the job market and a willingness to move jobs, whereas during the recession the tendency was to sit tight.
When looking at individual sectors unlike previous periods of improved sentiment, the data suggests that the upturn is broadly based across the economy as a whole. This has to be good news for the sustainability of the recovery. Out of the 48 economic sectors that we monitor, 30 have seen an increase in the number of roles advertised compared with 2012 levels, with 18 showing a decline.
Where there is a decline it is mainly at a low level. Many of the stand out sectors are hardly surprising. These are the sectors which benefit from investment in infrastructure including Building & Construction and Rail & Transport. These stand out sectors have seen significant improvements. The improved performance of the automotive sector has also been widely reported.
More surprisingly there has been strong growth in Public sector & Government vacancies, although this is partly the result of extremely low volumes in prior years.
Amongst the industries in decline it is perhaps surprising to see Retail showing negative growth. One of the criticisms from many experts of the current recovery is that it is consumer credit led (i.e. the thing that got us into trouble in the first place!). One would therefore have expected to see retail vacancy levels showing healthy growth, but this is not the case.
So the “Big Data” report shows that yes we are in recovery mode. It also shows that given the depth of the recession, we have suffered less than we should have expected. The Public Sector has been hit hardest with both cuts and “zero recruiting”. Retail has been equally tough with more candidates applying for jobs (a job in a recession) with less jobs available. IT and Engineering still remain the sector with jobs but “no candidates”. The report is a goldmine of information and you can download it here.