Tech spearheads rise in UK jobs market

After a grim 2020 in the jobs market because of the crippling Covid-19 pandemic, a survey is suggesting a pick-up in vacancies in the UK in January.

The latest real-time statistics from Broadbean Technology, the world’s largest network of job boards, showed a two per cent rise in advertised roles for the week ending January 24.Broadbean said that, while rise was modest, it demonstrated that "business optimism is returning the market despite the current lockdown".The increase was led by vacancies in the IT sector with vacancies for tech professionals increasing 17 per cent week-on-week. They were also 20 per cent up over the past 12 months, which Broadbean said reflected an enormous demand from employers for IT expertise as remote working practices grew.Meanwhile, other sectors continued to struggle because of government-imposed lockdowns. Hospitality, for instance, has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the restrictions with many businesses having to remain shut for the best part of a year and where vacancies are currently 81 per cent down compared to 12 months ago.Alex Fourlis, managing director at Broadbean, said: “With the UK entering another national lockdown earlier this month, we certainly expected recruitment levels to be impacted with several sectors effectively shutting down once more, so to see vacancies rise – albeit at a modest rate – is encouraging news.“And while it is early days in terms of establishing the exact extent to which the employment market will be impacted long term following lockdown, early indications suggest that job availability in some areas is faring well."With the vaccination programme ramping up day by day, and more business able to better facilitate remote working practices, we are cautiously optimistic about the coming weeks and months.”The data revealed that despite hiring in London falling by 30 per cent year-on-year, recruitment started to climb in January with vacancies up three per cent. By comparison, other major cities have seen a week-on-week decline in vacancies, with Manchester and Birmingham recording a one per cent and ten per cent decline respectively for the week ending January 24.Regional differences in business confidence have been mirrored in the latest 'Business Barometer' from Lloyds Bank's commercial banking division.While business confidence in the capital rose five points during January to three per cent - the first time it has been positive territory since the Covid-19 outbreak began - there were further, large falls in Scotland, Wales and SW England.However, in addition to London, business confidence increased month-on-month in SE and NW England and held steady in Yorkshire.Based on responses from 1,200 businesses, almost two-thirds of firms said the latest round of lockdown restrictions had resulted in a fall in turnover, although they expected the effects of the extensive vaccine rollout to boost trading prospects for 2021.
Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It has been a challenging start to the New Year for UK businesses adapting to a third national lockdown alongside the new EU trade arrangement taking effect."Nevertheless, while confidence remains below average, it is encouraging that business sentiment is still the second highest since the low of May 2020. Overall, the vaccine rollout programme has lifted confidence and that will hopefully buoy business optimism in the coming months.”Mark Amis, regional director for London at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, added: “Despite the significant operating challenges presented by the current lockdown, especially for London’s world-famous tourism and hospitality sectors, it’s encouraging to see confidence move tick into positive territory in January."Some London sectors, such as financial services, have been able to continue operating despite the restrictions and this may have helped boost the city’s outlook.“Firms also report that the vaccine roll-out is fuelling their confidence and helping them feel positive about the coming months. We remain by the side of firms businesses across the capital to help them emerge from the pandemic in as strong a position as possible.”

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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