Tech vacancies lead UK jobs surge

The easing of lockdown restrictions in the wake of the successful rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations has led to a marked increase in the number of professional vacancies in the UK, according to two surveys.

Nowhere is the surge more noticeable than in the tech sector where the number of jobs available for IT professionals was 71.7 per cent higher in the first quarter of this year than it was in Q1 in 2020.Research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) found that the unprecedented rise in demand for tech staff was largely due companies' needs to keep Britain connected and businesses open during the pandemic.Not surprisingly, perhaps, given the shift to online shopping during the lockdowns, Amazon was the company recording the most vacancies - 439 - for IT staff during the first quarter of this year.Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo, said: “The fact that IT vacancies have performed so well is incredibly encouraging and reflective of the huge move to remote working over the last year."And, as increasing numbers of employers start to look to the future which will undoubtedly include hybrid working models, we expect demand for tech professionals to remain strong.”Meanwhile, this month's jobs survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG rose found that vacancies were standing at their highest level in almost a quarter-century, with permanent staff placements growing at their fastest rate since October 1997.The REC said that, while the labour market remained a long way from its pre-pandemic level, the survey indicated that the sign of a swift economic recovery was underway on the back of the UK's widespread rollout of Covid-19 vaccines."We are bouncing back from a record low – and many people are still struggling – but the data shows that job creation is firing up again," said Neil Carberry, REC's chief executive."The message for government and employers alike is that the long-term challenge is less likely to be high unemployment than attracting and training enough staff to keep our economy firing."Both the APSCo and REC-KPMG surveys showed that the London jobs market continued to lead the way in vacancies.Anna Purchas, senior partner for KPMG in London, said: “There are some very positive signs that the engine room of the UK economy is starting to power up again, as London emerges from lockdown hibernation."Business confidence is returning, driving a record high in permanent recruitment levels across the capital and prompting a rise in starting salaries.“The availability of staff has slowed off this month with many workers not confident in switching jobs until they are certain of the strength of recovery, whilst many staff still remain on furlough, reducing the pool of workers.“It also raises a concern that candidate supply is slowing due in part to applicants needing support to adapt their skills to move from displaced sectors, such as retail, to those where there is more demand, such as digital." 

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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