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Graduate labour market update: teaching, migration and neurodiversity

March 2023

This week Charlie Ball takes a look at key reports on teacher recruitment and neurodiversity at work - plus census data on migration and the labour market, and much more...

First of all, here are the top 12 most common professional-levels jobs for UK-domiciled first degree graduates in the UK with known parental qualification levels, and the proportion of each who had no graduate parents.

OccupationNumber of entrants with known parental qualification levelProportion with no graduate parents
General nursing professionals719560.10%
Programmers and software development professionals398038.30%
Marketing associate professionals372040.40%
Primary education teaching professionals332553.10%
Generalist medical practitioners311523.10%
Secondary education teaching professionals296048.40%
Chartered and certified accountants243038.90%
Finance and investment analysts and advisers169535.60%
Graphic and multimedia designers153038.10%
Human resources and industrial relations officers146043.60%
Management consultants and business analysts138031.00%
Public relations professionals135535.20%


The timeliest estimate of payrolled employees for February 2023 shows numbers up 98,000 on the revised January 2023 figures, to 30.0 million:

  • In December 2022 to February 2023, the estimated number of vacancies fell by 51,000 on the quarter to 1,124,000.
  • Vacancy numbers fell on the quarter for the eighth consecutive period in December 2022 to February 2023, down by 4.3% since September to November 2022, with vacancies falling in 12 of the 18 industry sectors.
  • When comparing December 2022 to February 2023 with the same time last year, total vacancies decreased by 162,000 (12.6%) with falls in 15 of the 18 industry sectors, with the largest fall in information and communication, which was down by 27,000. However, the total number of vacancies remains 328,000 above January to March 2020 pre-COVID levels, with human health and social work activities showing the largest increase, at 69,000. Notably, real estate activities was the only industry below January to March 2020 pre-pandemic levels, falling by 2,000.
  • In December 2022, workforce jobs rose by 211,000 on the quarter to a new record high of 36.4 million, with 6 of the 20 industry sectors at record-high levels.
  • The effect COVID-19 had on job numbers has varied across the labour market, with nine of the 20 industry sectors still below pre-pandemic levels. The hardest-hit sector, wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicle and motorcycles, saw the largest fall in job numbers over the quarter, at 157,000. However, most industries displayed increases. The largest increases were in human health and social work, which was up 244,000 and professional, scientific and technical activities, which was up 236,000, helping to keep total workforce jobs above pre-pandemic levels. These two industries, alongside transport and storage, accommodation and food service activities, real estate activities and water supply, sewerage, waste and remediation activities, were all at record-high levels in December 2022.
  • On the quarter, 12 industry sectors grew from September 2022, contributing to the increase of 211,000 in the total workforce jobs estimate. The largest increase came from professional, scientific and technical activities, up by 93,000 and is the largest quarterly increase ever seen in this category. The very large majority of these roles are at degree level. The second largest increase was in human health and social work, which was up 34,000. The combined decrease across the eight industries that fell in December 2022 was 72,000, with education having the largest individual fall, at 27,000.
  • Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 5.7% and growth in regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 6.5% among employees in November 2022 to January 2023. Average regular pay growth for the private sector was 7.0% in November 2022 to January 2023, and 4.8% for the public sector.

Scottish data is here:

  • There were 2.44 million payrolled employees in Scotland, an increase of 2.4% (58,000) compared with February 2020 (pre-pandemic). This compares with the UK where the number of payrolled employees has increased by 3.6% over the same period.
  • The estimated employment rate for people aged 16 to 64 years in Scotland was 76.5% in November 2022 to January 2023. This is 1.1 percentage points up on December 2019 to February 2020 (pre-pandemic) and up 0.5 percentage points over the quarter.
  • Median monthly pay for payrolled employees in Scotland was £2,243, an increase of 8.7% compared to the same period the previous year. This is higher than the annual growth in
  • Median monthly pay for the UK over the same period (6.7%). The estimated median monthly pay for payrolled employees in Scotland in February 2023 increased by 19.8% compared with February 2020, the last month prior to the pandemic. This is above the UK increase of 17.8% over the same period.

New Welsh data is also available:

  • The employment rate in Wales was 72.3% in the quarter to the end of January, equating to 1,442,000 people in work. This was down 6,000 on the quarter.
  • The economic inactivity rate for people aged 16 to 64 in Wales was 24.9%, lower than 25.1% in the previous quarter (August to October 2022). This is a decrease of 3,000 people to 476,000.
  • The number of self-employment jobs in Wales in December 2022 was 179,500, a decrease of
  • 8,400 (4.5%) over the year.
  • In December 2022, human health & social work activities accounted for 14.7% of workforce jobs in Wales, the highest of any industry. This was followed by wholesale & retail trade with 13.3% of workforce jobs.

Northern Irish data is here too:

  • The number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in NI in February 2023 was 787,200, an increase of 0.4% over the month and an increase of 2.2% over the year.
  • NI employees had a median monthly pay of £2,047 in February 2023, an increase of £10 (0.5%) over the month and an increase of £134 (7.0%) over the year.
  • Businesses reported that employee jobs increased over the quarter (0.6%) and over the year (3.5%) to a series high of 810,210 jobs in December 2022.
  • NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 20 redundancies occurred in February 2023. Over the year March 2022 to February 2023, 940 redundancies were confirmed, 54.4% less than in the previous 12 months. There were 440 proposed redundancies in February 2023, taking the annual total to 2,180 (7.0% more than in the previous 12 months).

And finally, data for the regions can be found here:

  • For the three months ending January 2023, the highest employment rate estimate in the UK was in the South West (79.9%) and the lowest were in both the North East and Northern Ireland (71.8%).
  • The largest increase in the employment rate compared with the same period last year was in Northern Ireland, up by 3.1 percentage points, with Wales seeing the largest decrease of 2.0 percentage points.
  • Between September and December 2022, workforce jobs increased in ten out of 12 regions of the UK, with the West Midlands seeing the largest increase of 82,000, while Scotland and Yorkshire and The Humber had falls of 26,000 and 5,000, respectively. London had the highest proportion of service-based jobs (92.4%), while the East Midlands and Yorkshire and The Humber jointly had the highest proportion of production sector jobs (12.7%).
  • The number of payrolled employees continued to rise in all regions. Comparing February 2023 with the same period of the previous year, increases in payrolled employees ranged from 3.8 percentage points in London to 1.6 percentage points in Yorkshire and The Humber.

29% of businesses with ten or more employees reported they experienced difficulties recruiting employees in February 2023.

The total number of online job adverts fell by 2% in the week to 17 March 2023:

  • 24 out of the 28 categories and all 12 UK countries and English regions showed decreases when compared with the previous week. Additionally, the total number of job adverts was 14% below the level seen in the equivalent period of 2022.
  • Online job adverts decreased in all 12 UK countries and English regions compared with the previous week for the second time this year, while 10 of 12 remained below the level of the same period in 2022.

29% of businesses with ten or more employees reported they experienced difficulties recruiting employees in February 2023. Another 24% did not try to recruit. The figure was highest for health employers, where 46% experienced difficulty.

Migration and the labour market

Two more interesting releases from the Census. The first is on migration and the labour market:

  • Of all people aged 16 years and over, 55.9% of those born in the UK were in employment, compared with 70.8% of those born in the European Union (EU) and 58.0% among those born in non-EU countries
  • Professional occupations (such as doctors, nurses and teachers) was the most common broad occupational group for most migrant groups, with around a third (35.7%) of those born in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island nations (known as 'Antarctica, Oceania and other') employed in this occupation group.
  • Nearly half (47.5%) of specialist medical practitioners, such as oncologists and cardiologists, were born outside the UK. 40.6% of generalist medical practitioners were born outside the UK, 21.8% were born in the Middle East and Asia and 9.0% from Africa. Of employed adults born in the Middle East and Asia, 1 in 50 (2.1%) are generalist practitioners.
  • Looking at nursing professionals, 26.9% of mental health nurses were born outside the UK. Those born in Africa made up the largest part of this group at 20.2% of all mental health nurses. A further 20.5% of specialist nurses were born outside the UK, with 7.9% coming from the Middle East and Asia. Midwifery nurses had one of the smallest non-UK workforce at 13.7%, with 4.5% being born in Africa and 4.1% from the EU14.
  • 30.6% of the science, R&D workforce were born outside the UK.

The second is on ethnic group and education.

  • 34%, (or over 16 million people) of everyone aged over 16 years in England and Wales said they had a higher-level qualification (Level 4 or above, equivalent to a degree). Of people who identified as Chinese, 56% had this level of qualification. More than half (52%) of people in the Indian ethnic group had a higher-level qualification, followed by nearly half of people who selected the ethnic group tick box for African (49%).
  • Those who identified within the 'White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller' ethnic group had the lowest proportion of people with a higher-level qualification at 1 in 9 people (11%), and were most likely to have no formal qualifications (57%). This was followed by those who identified as 'White: Roma', around 3 in 10 of whom had no formal qualifications (31%). However, a similar proportion of people in this 'Roma' group had a higher-level qualification (32%).
  • The 'White and Asian' ethnic group (of the 'Mixed or Multiple ethnic group') had the lowest percentage of people with no qualifications at 9%.
  • In most ethnic groups, a larger percentage of women had higher-level qualifications (Level 4 and over) than men. The largest differences were among people identifying as Caribbean (within 'Black, Black British, Black Welsh, Caribbean or African'). Of women in this ethnic group aged 16 years and older, 40% reported having a higher-level qualification. By comparison, 27% of men in this ethnic group had the same qualification level.

Lots in this data, and very interesting to see where there are disparities and issues.

Talent scarcity is at a 16-year high, with 78% of employers say they are struggling to find the skills that they need.

The Manpower Group have released their Q2 Employment Survey:

  • Talent scarcity is at a 16-year high according to the survey, with 78% of employers say they are struggling to find the skills that they need.
  • Despite this, the balance of the employment outlook (the gap between those expecting to expand and those expecting to lay off) is at +21, a very positive view, and up on the start of 2023. 40% plan to hire this quarter, and intentions positive across the UK.
  • The IT/digital industry is much the most positive for hiring outlook in the UK.

The UK teaching workforce

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) have produced their annual report on the UK teaching workforce:

  • The number of teacher vacancies posted by schools, an indicator of staff turnover, was 93% higher in the academic year up to February 2023, than at the same point in the year before the pandemic.
  • Recruitment to initial teacher training (ITT) in 2023/24 is likely to be significantly below target. NFER projects that primary ITT and nine out of 17 secondary subjects - physics, computing, design and technology, business studies, modern foreign languages, religious education, music, drama and art and design – are expected to be 20% or more below target.
  • Other subjects such as maths, English, chemistry and geography are also at risk of under-recruiting this year, while biology, history, classics and physical education are likely to be at, or slightly above, target. This follows historically low recruitment in 2022/23.
  • Real earnings for teachers in 2021/22 were 12% lower in real terms than in 2010/11. While the earnings of similar graduates have also fallen in real terms since 2010, teacher pay has fallen by more. In 2018/19, the last year before the pandemic, the gap between real earnings growth for teachers and similar graduates was four percentage points. By 2021/22, the gap had widened - real earnings growth since 2010/11 for teachers was 11 percentage points lower than for similar graduates.
  • In 2021/22, teachers worked on average 4.5 hours per week more than similar graduates and were more likely than similar graduates to prefer to work fewer hours, fewer hours even for less pay and to usually work evenings.
  • 44% of graduates in 2021/22 reported that they mainly worked from home, while the prevalence of home working arrangements for teachers remained very limited.
  • However, teachers report higher levels of satisfaction with their life and feelings that what they do is worthwhile, alongside lower levels of anxiety than other graduates.

A teacher chats with a group of pupils in a classroom.

The future of recruitment

LinkedIn's Future of Recruiting 2023 report finds that 20% of employers believe EDI (equity, diversity and inclusivity) is more important in recruiting despite current economic uncertainty:

  • 74% overall say it is no lower in priority despite difficult economic conditions.
  • 64% predict that the future of recruiting will be more favourable to candidates and employees (as opposed to employers) over the next five years, as occupational shortages remain a significant issue globally.
  • Communication skills are seen as the most important business need in a changing, hybrid world - cited by 78% of hiring managers.
  • Employees at companies with high internal mobility stay 60% longer - a median on 4.9 years as opposed to 3.1 years for companies with low internal mobility.

And for those wondering how new AI advances will affect recruitment (pretty much everyone judging by the recent conversations I've had):

  •  74% aim to use it to automate repetitive tasks so they can focus on strategic work
  • 67% see a role in making it faster/easier to source candidates
  • 59% see a role in helping candidate engagement.

Birkbeck's Centre for Neurodiversity Research at Work have produced a great new report on Neurodiversity at Work, commissioned by Neurodiversity in Business

  • ADHD and autism are much the most common conditions reported. 38% of the sample were LGBTQ+.
  • In terms of strengths, employees' hyper-focus, creativity and innovation were prominent, along with processing detail, authenticity, visual reasoning and long-term memory.
  • The main challenges reported were mental health, ability to concentrate, ability to ask for help, physical health, managing work boundaries, working memory and understanding the intentions of others.
  • Most neurodiverse employees did not have formal adjustments for them at work. 29.9% had adjustments in place - note that this seems to be because many had not asked for adjustments.
  • The most useful adjustments were related to flexible working and the ability to have their own space to work in.
  • Barriers to reporting a condition were widespread: 64.7% said that they were worried about stigma and discrimination from management; 55.0% were worried about stigma and discrimination from colleagues; 40.5% said there were no supportive and knowledgeable staff.

There's a lot of really interesting and insightful information in this report, I recommend you have a read of it.

And there are new skills projections dashboards at the Unit for Future Skills, so you can look at projected employment demand to 2035 by geographic area.

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