Vacancies jump as jobseeker numbers drop again

Businesses in the UK are confronting a "critical dearth of talent", according to the latest analysis of jobs statistics by Broadbean Technology, the world’s largest network of job boards.

While the number of Britons applying for jobs tumbled for the third consecutive month in June, vacancies increased by ten per cent. Broadbean’s data coincided with publication on Friday of the IHS Markit 'Composite Output Index' for the UK in July, which stood at 57.7 - well above the 50 reading indicating expansion but down on June's 62.2.And that decline was blamed on both shortages of raw materials and of staff. "Where growth was reported, this was attributed to looser pandemic restrictions, a boost to consumer spending from staycations, rising demand for business services, and strong order books in the manufacturing sector," IHS added.The Broadbean analysis showed the number of applicants per vacancy was down 24 per cent between May and June, following a nine per cent fall the previous month and a 15 per cent drop from March to April.Over the first half of the year, hospitality and catering suffered most with a 78 per cent decline in the number of applications per vacancy, while the logistics and supply chain saw a fall almost as great."This is indicative of the on-going post-pandemic resourcing struggles that these industries have faced as business demand spikes, while staffing numbers decrease as more people turn to work in other sectors that were considered more stable during the pandemic," reported Broadbean.One continuing, if temporary, problem is the half a million-plus people who, each week, are currently being forced to self-isolate at home after coming into contact with someone diagnosed as suffering from Covid-19.Amid fears the situation could lead to a shortage of supplies getting to supermarkets, the government has now been forced to excuse workers in the distributive trades from having to self-isolate and, instead, take daily coronavirus tests.Alex Fourlis, managing director at Broadbean Technology, commented: “The UK job market is becoming increasingly competitive as a shortage of talent continues to be exacerbated by the spikes in hiring that most businesses are reporting.“We’re currently witnessing multiple clients experiencing record low levels of job applications, leaving frustrated recruiters unable to fill critical positions.
"In fact, the applications per job that we recorded in May and June hit record lows, unseen in the last five years. It’s unlikely that we’ll see any improvement on this situation as we enter the mid-summer months, with many jobseekers now postponing their job search until September.”On Thursday, a survey of 250 manufacturing companies by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) showed that numbers employed in the sector grew at their fastest pace since 1973, and were expected to increase at a slightly faster rate in the coming three months.But while business optimism remained high, the survey revealed concerns about the availability of both skilled labour and materials, which were seen as a threat to output in the third quarter.The rise recorded in vacancies by Broadbean reflected recent data from the Office for National Statistics showing that, in Q2, the number of jobs on offer (862,000) was higher than in the first quarter of last year - that is, before the pandemic struck."The recruitment difficulties faced by firms go well beyond temporary bottlenecks and with many facing an increasing skills gap, staff shortages may drag on any recovery," according to the British Chambers of Commerce.However, Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at Capital Economics, said: "While there is growing evidence that firms are finding it more difficult to hire workers, we suspect that most of these labour shortages will prove temporary and that they will be confined to a few sectors."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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