Average advertised vacancies currently reached a 19-month high (1,202,573) in June 2017, the highest number recorded since the 1,229,131 available in October 2015, according to Adzuna.co.uk.
Against a backdrop of Brexit negotiations forcing UK companies to scale back their hiring processes and pressure from inflation squeezing household disposable incomes, advertised vacancies have defied the odds to reach their highest level in two years. This means that jobseekers and employees have more options available than at any other point since the autumn of 2015. The jobs market has gone from strength to strength in terms of the variety and flexibility of roles up for grabs.
As in 2017, the spring of 2015 also saw a General Election and proved that the jobs market and advertised vacancy levels could hold up amid political uncertainty. However, average salaries were still increasing on an annual basis in the first half of 2015, a trend that would end in June of that year and salaries have remained stagnant ever since.
Fast forward to the present day and average salaries continue to feel the pinch as consumers are forced to be shrewder with spending power. According to the latest IHS Markit Household Finance Index, willingness to make big purchases has fallen to its lowest level since December 2013 as consumers are less prepared to spend money on luxury items such as holidays.
In terms of the regional breakdown of wages, London has shown an annual increase of 0.2% in advertised salaries in the year to June. While the rise may be marginal, this is the first time in two years – since July 2015 (0.9%) – there has been an annual increase in average salaries in the capital. Following 24 months of stagnation, average salaries in London now sit at £39,232, with 265,568 advertised vacancies available. This growth is in contrast to neighbouring South East England, which has witnessed a 2.3% year-on-year decrease, with advertised salaries at £30,986.
The effects of Brexit negotiations on the labour market remain uncertain according to the Centre for London Think Tank. A report suggested leaving the EU with no trade deal could potentially result in the loss of 70,000 City jobs. On the flip side, BMW and Amazon have recently made firm commitments to the UK labour market after BMW announced an electric version of the Mini will be built near Oxford rather than overseas, safeguarding 4,500 jobs. Retail powerhouse Amazon also outlined its intentions to increase the size of its new London headquarters by more than a third, creating hundreds more highly skilled tech jobs.
Table 1: Total advertised vacancies and UK salary
|June 2017||May 2017||Monthly
|Annual change from June 2016|
|Jobseekers per Vacancy||0.41||0.43||-4.6%||-18%|
|Av. Advertised UK Salary||£32,519||£32,743||-0.7%||-0.6%|
Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, explained, “The rise in the number of vacancies highlights the resilience of the UK jobs market. Jobseekers are spoiled for choice by the expanding opportunities available. Although salary growth remains stagnant in most regions, it is encouraging to see London join Eastern England, Northern Ireland and Wales as an area where the green shoots of recovery are visible. With more than a quarter of a million openings in London at present, there are plenty of opportunities for modern day Dick Whittington’s to see if the capital’s streets really are paved with gold.
“Recent warnings suggest that the UK may be on track for an economic slowdown, but it is hoped that a clear-cut immigration strategy is to become the backbone of the UK economy. With vacancies on the rise, this calls for further investment into new and innovative sectors that will stimulate the economy and boost wage growth. Recent announcements from BMW and Amazon provide a further shot in the arm for the UK jobs market and could well motivate other blue-chip companies to follow suit.”
The rise of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) has had a mixed impact across a range of sectors, with some immune and others expected to be completely revolutionised. But while AI can add value to highly skilled, tech-related and scientific jobs, more complicated tasks still require a higher level of human involvement compared to low-skilled jobs powered by manual labour where automation can bring improvements in speed, standardisation and efficiency. There will also be a raft of new jobs coming on stream to aid the development, production and maintenance of AI systems.
According to Adzuna data, scientific & quality assurance (QA) jobs have risen the ranks to become one of the best-performing sectors in terms of advertised salaries in the midst of this technological revolution. It’s likely that demand for Scientific & QA Jobs is increasing, as the top companies hiring for Scientific & QA Jobs are AstraZeneca and the University of Cambridge. With the rise of artificial intelligence and automation set to take over from manual labour and traditional ways of working in the future, average salaries for scientific & QA jobs are up 1.8% at £38,926 year-on-year.
A recent whitepaper by Adzuna showed that two thirds of the UK’s fastest declining occupations are falling in popularity as the effects of automation bite in many industries.
Another sector enjoying annual salary improvements is legal jobs, where advertised salaries have risen by 3.5% year-on-year to stand at £40,190. There are plenty of new opening too, with a 4% monthly increase leading to 24,070 advertised vacancies. Recent ONS figures show a 10% annual increase in police-recorded crime, and an 18% rise in violent crime. Divorce rates also remain historically high, with an increase among older generations choosing to separate.
Monro commented, “As scientific & QA jobs rise up the ranks, the potential negative connotations associated with automation start to dissipate. It is undeniable that low-skilled jobs will inevitably bear the initial brunt as we enter the first phase of automation, however there are opportunities available for specialised high-tech vacancies to emerge that may encourage those at various ends of the spectrum to go back into higher education in order to keep up with the new wave of technological advancements. An investment in technology is an investment in our future.
“The law sector also presents a compelling case currently with rising salaries and vacancies representing attractive opportunities for legal eagles. But while these figures make for attractive reading, the fact UK crime is rising at its fastest rate for 18 years is a less appealing statistic and the legal profession is certainly not for the faint-hearted.”
Table 2: Best-performing jobs sectors in the UK – annual salaries
|Job Sector||Average salary||Salary % 12 Month Change||Total Vacancies|
|HR & Recruitment Jobs||£33,710||10.8%||14,606|
|Healthcare & Nursing Jobs||£36,306||5.4%||124,371|
|Scientific & QA Jobs||£38,926||1.8%||9,917|
Winchester has climbed a place to become the fifth best city in the UK to find a job. Traditionally known as the birthplace of world-famous author Jane Austen, Winchester’s improving jobs market has given it another reason for renown. Competition for jobseekers per vacancy currently sits at 0.12, down by a fifth from May 2017. There are more than 2,000 jobs currently available in the Hampshire city, with the main companies recruiting at the moment including Voyage Care, Exclusive Hotels and Q-Hotels.
Monro said, “A new city rising up the best places to find a jobs list is the exact type of healthy competition that will boost the UK’s productivity and create shared wealth. Winchester boasts tradition, culture and history and yet now has a dynamic jobs market to add to its books. After the emergence of Warrington in May and now Winchester’s moment in the spotlight in June, we hope to continue to see new challengers in the running in the months ahead.”
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