Job Vacancies and Candidate Availability in the UK Economy, January – April 2016

Two recently published barometers of the state of the UK vacancy and labour markets by the REC and Markit, Report on Jobs, and Jobs Outlook provide a comprehensive and interesting analysis of the current state of the UK labour market and highlight a number of changes which have happened in the first four months of 2016.

We have seen the numbers employed in the UK workforce at an all time high with and additional 360,000 people being added to the workforce over the last year. This growth in the workforce is predicted to continue through 2016, though in a different format.

In relation to new vacancies and where they are coming from the surveys suggest that a  majority of companies, 77%, still feel that the UK economy is strong enough in that they envisage recruiting additional headcount over the next quarter.

There has been strong growth in 2016 in the rise of permanent vacancies, thought here has been a slowdown in April with the uncertainty over the EU Referendum causing some organisations to delay their hiring decisions while the increase in the National Living Wage has also had an effect.

There has been a very strong growth in the number of contract/temporary vacancies in the first 4 months of 2016 as organisations seek to meet their requirement by recruiting staff of a short term basis and this is expected to continue throughout 2016

However throughout the first four months of 2016 there has been a continuing decrease in candidate availability, particularly in areas where key skills are in short supply. The areas of highest scarcity in the UK economy currently include:

  • Engineering
  • Nursing
  • Scientific/Clinical
  • IT

Interestingly, the availability of IT staff has increased, with organisations finding it easier to recruit staff in this field in comparison to 2015.

Overall though the ongoing trend is that candidate availability is still very tight. This is particularly so in the contract/market where we are starting to see wage/rate pressure, particularly in the highly skilled sectors.

Interestingly, while starting salaries in the permanent sector are increasing, the rate of salary growth still remains low, with an average of between 1 -1.5% per annum. It is difficult to predict how long the job markets can sustain this low level of growth, if demand continues to grow.

In summary these reports highlight that there is still a very strong demand for highly skilled staff and the over capacity in the candidate market has been pretty much used up. The demand for additional staff continues to grow and there has been a strong increase for temporary/contract staff over the last two months . It is important that organisations hiring staff realise this and ensure that their candidate attraction campaigns incorporate greater flexibility and competitiveness so that they  are successful in attracting the right talent.

If you would like to find out more in depth information on these reports contact Liam O Connell,


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