Traditionally, December can be a quieter month for employment in the UK and this is something that we were expecting to see at the tail end of last year, especially in light of rising Covid case numbers and an impending lockdown on the horizon.
Permanent placements for December rose from 48.2 in November to 51.1 in December, and this was still an increase on October’s numbers. Temporary placements have continued to rise from 56.1 in November to 57.9 in December, the biggest expansion in temporary recruitment since October 2018 and demonstrates the importance of the flexible jobs market. Overall, confidence in December was positive and buoyed by the commencement of the vaccine rollout.
What About Vacancies?
Here too we are seeing an increase. The Total Vacancies Index rose from 47.0 in November, to 50.6 in December, signalling a renewed increase in overall demand for workers. The ONS reports that overall, UK job vacancies continue to increase steadily from the low point in June’s survey, however, numbers are still below those that we saw at the start of the year pre-Covid. Demand for both permanent and temporary vacancies is still highest in the private sector.
Which Sectors Are Recruiting?
As always, IT/Tech is still top of the list for permanent placements. Whilst this has always been an in-demand skill, Covid has taken a lot of activity online which has impacted on the skills shortage in this sector. Now more than ever, digital skills are in demand and it is worth workers looking at what online courses there are available that can help them enhance their skills. Additionally, accounting, engineering and construction skills are still in demand whilst understandably, the retail and hospitality sectors are taking a hit across both permanent and temporary placements.
New employees saw a rise in starting salaries in December up from 45.6 in November to 50.2 in December, ending an 8-month period of fall in pay. There have been reports of some firms offering higher pay to secure quality candidates which indicates that the competition for talent is helping boost figures. The ONS reports that average weekly pay has increased +2.7% year-on-year in the three months to October. This was up from a +1.4% rise in the preceding three-month period, and the strongest rate of growth seen since the three months to February.
Although we should all be slightly buoyed by these figures, we need to be mindful that this current lockdown could have an impact on the jobs market in the coming months. Hopefully, as we accelerate our vaccination programme, this positivity will be reflected in business and future jobs outlook reports going forwards into 2021.