Market update – our view of recruitment across the east

It’s safe to say that confidence in the economy isn’t high at the moment. This and the cost-of-living crisis are fuelling a massive shortage of talent in the job market as people choose security over pastures new. It’s not all bad news though – recruiters are finding new ways to attract workers to their organisations with promises of flexible working, improved work-life balances and strong employee engagement.

The job market in the UK

The latest Report on Jobs from KPMG and REC (the leading membership organisation for recruiters) has this to say about the job market in September:

‘With unemployment at record lows, pay continues to rise for both temporary and permanent workers starting new jobs, and activity levels across the recruitment and staffing industry remain high. While any economic slowdown this winter will affect the market, the extent of shortages mean that hiring will remain a focus for employers.

Firms need to work with skilled recruiters on offers that will maximise the skill base we have. There has never been a more important time for business leaders to put the people stuff first.’

This highlights the main issue affecting the job market both in our region and beyond – there are more jobs than there are jobseekers. The threat of a potential recession means many people are staying where they are, and only moving jobs for significant salary increases. And while it’s hard to predict the impact of this potential recession, especially as no one’s sure how severe it might be, it’s unlikely to significantly change this labour shortage.

It’s tempting to blame Brexit and a shortage of foreign workers for the lack of available talent in the marketplace. But according to an article in The Sunday Times on 21 August 2022, this might actually not be a problem at all:

‘In the second quarter [of 2022] there were 78,000 more foreign nationals working in the UK than before the pandemic – a 239,000 fall in EU workers offset by a 317,000 increase in other foreign nationals.’

What’s happening in the east of England?

We’ve had the highest rate of employment in the country for quite some time. And this is continuing as we come to the end of 2022, with 78.6% of people in employment in the three months ending July 2022 (the UK rate was 75.4%). While this is great news for individuals, it’s not so good for recruiters. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of job vacancies in June to August was 1,266,000, which has actually gone down by 34,000 from the previous quarter. In fact, this is the largest quarterly fall since June to August 2020.

The economic inactivity rate (the percentage of the population aged 16 to 64 who aren’t in paid work, but also aren’t looking for a job or available to start work), increased by 0.4 percentage points to 21.7% in May to July 2022. This was largely driven by people aged 16 to 24 years who are studying, and those aged 50 to 64 years with long-term illnesses that mean they can’t work. This is still one of the lower rates in the country though.

What does this mean for employers?

Demand for skilled people is high. And that puts jobseekers in a very strong negotiating position. So to be in with a chance of tempting them away from their current jobs, employers must:

  • offer some form of flexible working – experiments with new types of working models (for example the four-day week) continue as organisations try to find a balance between on-site, flexible and remote working. But it’s fair to say that most office-based employees now expect to be able to work flexibly for at least some of their working week
  • pay fair wages in line with or, better still, above inflation – according to our own research most job seekers won’t move unless they get at least a 10% increase on their previous salary
  • be able to show a strong track record in employee engagement and wellbeing
  • have a well-articulated and demonstrable purpose, culture and values.

How we can help

At Pure, our strong working relationships with our clients are something we really pride ourselves on. So we work closely with them to really get under the skin of their businesses. Then we use this and our knowledge of the wider recruitment landscape to give them advice on how best to fill their positions – something that could be the difference between success and failure in a volatile market.

Doing this also means we can give potential employees a really good idea of what a job will involve, and reassure them about the financial stability of a particular company before they accept (or turn down) a position.

We’re also working even harder than normal to find talented and highly qualified people to shortlist for our clients’ positions. So if you’d like to have a chat with us about how to deliver your recruitment strategies for now and in the future, please get in touch.

We also have lots of useful articles and resources on our website about how to encourage the highest calibre jobseekers to choose you, including:

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Written by

David Culley

David joined Pure in 2003 and has since played a key role in our growth. He has a great reputation among our charity and public sector customer base and is responsible for delivering executive recruitment solutions. David became Managing Director in April 2022 and now oversees all our business operations, while also staying close to his customers and being part of the Cambridge business community.

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