Survey finds more jobs but fewer candidates

A steep fall in the number of applicants for job vacancies last month resulted in UK employers being able to take on new staff at the slowest rate in more than a year.

The latest survey from KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) found that, while the number of vacancies continued to grow, thousands of jobs went unfilled because of a lack of candidates.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said the situation should make the government introduce more, sector-specific visas to enable companies to attract more overseas staff.

Sector-specific visas are needed to help stop staff shortages

“Compared to pre-pandemic," he said, "labour supply is still the big issue we have to solve. With over half a million people missing from the jobs market, and demand still growing strongly, this is a big, strategic issue for the UK. Growth is essential to funding public services and paying higher wages sustainably.

"Any plan for growth must include action to help people into work from inactivity, skills reform, support for innovation on productivity and targeted immigration reform.”

The latest report, based on a survey by S&P Global survey of some 400 recruitment and employment consultancies, found that permanent staff appointments expanded at the softest rate since March last year.

"A further marked deterioration in overall candidate supply was seen in May. This was despite the rate of reduction easing to the softest in four months," reported the REC.

Meanwhile, demand for staff last month continued to rise at "a historically sharp pace" while recruiters noted sustained upward pressure on rates of starting pay.

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London registered the highest increase in permanent placements of all four monitored English regions, while the lowest was seen in the South of England.

The sector showing the biggest increase in demand for permanent staff was IT and computing, closely followed by hotel and catering. But the report found steep increases in vacancies across all ten sectors surveyed.

Skills shortage are making employeres rethink their recruitment strategy

Claire Warnes, head of education, skills and productivity at KPMG UK, said: "For over a year now, we have seen a sustained mismatch in the growing numbers of vacancies in every sector of the economy against the inadequate supply of skilled candidates.

"The initial effects of this have been obvious, in particular the driving up of starting salaries. However, perhaps we are starting to see wider consequences of the systemic issues in the available workforce to support the growth opportunities which employers are chasing.

"Candidate availability is still falling, so it remains a hot market for those well-qualified in their sectors. But are employers starting to rethink their growth plans because of skills shortages which are proving difficult to fix as quickly as they need?"

Read more news and views from David Sapsted in the Spring 2022 issue of Think Global People.

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