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Jobs Outlook Report – September 2021

As we head into October and use the data to look back on the recruitment market in September, and consider the coming months, we’re doing it against a backdrop of personal knowledge. Every single one of us has seen some of the impact of the latest data in one way or another, whether that’s an empty petrol station or difficulties getting your full range of goods in the supermarket.


A picture gaining more clarity on the last few months

The data released in the most recent Report on Jobs by the REC simply shows that the trends of the last few months are continuing:

  • Recruitment activity remains robust in September

On the back of the last few months, there’s been even more hiring activity in September. The jobs market is buoyant and fuelled by employer confidence. This is particularly the case when we look at permanent positions. Temporary positions are still notably high but there’s a little dampening compared to the intensity of the last few months.

  • Vacancies continue to grow at near-record pace

There’s enormous and growing demand for new recruits in both the permanent and temporary sectors. We’re still seeing incredible pace in vacancy growth. Indeed, for the first time ever, the number of vacancies recorded by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has topped a million. This record high shows us that the number of vacancies currently stands at 1,034,000 which is a marked jump from 959,000 in the previous three months and up 137.7% from the same time last year.


These vacancies are being seen across the jobs spectrum. However they are most marked in IT and Computing followed by Hotel and Catering. The easiest demand is within executive and professional roles, but there was still sharp growth.

  • Unprecedented increases in starting pay

This mismatch in supply and demand is continuing to put upward pressure on salaries. Salaries for permanent staff and wages for temporary staff have both increased at the fastest rates recorded in nearly quarter of a century of data collection. ONS puts this growth at 8.3% year-on-year although do bear in mind that the ONS asserts that the pandemic has skewed the data due to a low base period of comparison and the number and proportion of lower-paid jobs.

  • Availability of candidates falls sharply

All of this is happening against a backdrop of depleted candidate supply – still. This is due to lower numbers of EU workers, employee uncertainty due to the pandemic, a high employment rate and of course, unprecedented demand for new staff. Indeed, 9 out of 10 recruiters are reporting that labour shortages are their biggest worry for the rest of the year.


Confidence in the UK economy

The reality is that it’s not been plain sailing for the UK economy as we try to recover ground from the depths of the pandemic. We’re currently surrounded by rising energy prices, soon-to-come tax increases and ongoing fuel shortages.


However, what is clearly evident is that employers are leading the way by demonstrating strong levels of confidence in the UK economy. Confidence levels sit at net +19 which are the highest levels on record. Indeed, both the Bank of England (BoE) and the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) have revised their projected figures for the rest of 2021 to be more optimistic.


We now need to work hard as 2021 comes to a close to manage the wider economic events in a way which ensures rising candidate supply so that we can properly and comfortably see our way through the winter and come out the other side stronger.

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