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UK graduate labour market update: 10 October

October 2022

Among the reports covered in this week's labour market update from Charlie Ball is a study looking at employer attitudes towards a four day working week

The latest rapid indicators of economic and social change are now available from the Office for National Statistics (ONS):

  • The number of total UK online job adverts was broadly unchanged in the latest week, however, they are now 17% lower than the equivalent week of 2021 having shown a downward trend since the highest point this year in mid-February.
  • There were increased job adverts in 14 of the 28 online job advert categories. The largest of these was in the 'graduate' category, which rose by 13% and is the same level as a year ago. Adverts in the 'transport, logistics and warehouse', 'management, executive and consulting' and 'accounting and finance' categories saw the largest weekly falls, all decreasing by 4%. Adverts in 'management, executive and consulting' have been trending downwards since mid-February 2022.
  • In the latest week, five of the 12 UK countries and English regions saw decreases in online job adverts. The largest week-on-week fall in regional online job adverts was in Northern Ireland, with a fall of 10%. The largest week-on-week increase was in the North East of England, which rose by 3%. However, after a steady recovery from a low in mid-May 2020, adverts in the North East have been steadily decreasing since mid-February 2022, moving more closely with the other English regions.
  • Potential redundancies in the week to 25 September 2022 were 57% of their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level and 123% of the level in the equivalent week of 2021. The number of employers proposing redundancies is 72% of their pre-coronavirus levels and 127% of the level in the equivalent week of 2021.

The House of Commons Library have examined unemployment by ethnicity:

  • The UK unemployment rate was 3.6% in April-June 2022. The rate was 3.2% for people from a white ethnic background compared to 6.3% for people from minority ethnic backgrounds, although there was substantial variation between different ethnic minority groups.
  • People from white (3.2%) and Indian (4.7%) ethnic backgrounds had the lowest unemployment rates, and people from Bangladeshi (9.0%) and Black/African/Caribbean/Black British (8.1%) ethnic backgrounds had the highest rates in April-June 2022.

The proportion of graduates in non-graduate roles has risen over the past year, but remains below pre-pandemic levels.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation's (REC) newest Report on Jobs, for September, is now out:

  • Hiring activity was up again, but the rate of increase has slowed substantially, both for temporary and permanent vacancies.
  • The rising cost of living and competition for scarce workers meant starting salaries continue to rise.
  • Although there were further signs of the downturn in labour supply easing in September, candidate numbers continued to fall sharply overall. Permanent staff availability deteriorated at a quicker pace than that seen for temp workers. A key factor weighing on candidate numbers was a greater hesitancy among people to apply for new roles, driven by fears over the economic outlook. A generally low unemployment rate, skills shortages and Brexit also weighed on candidate availability.
  • Data split by region showed that London registered the steepest increase in permanent staff appointments. Upturns were relatively mild in the North of England and the Midlands, while the South of England saw the first reduction in 19 months.
  • Billings expanded at a softer rate in London and the South of England, but at a quicker rate in the North of England. The Midlands meanwhile registered a decline in temp billings for the first time in 27 months, albeit one that was modest overall.
  • The steepest increase in demand for staff was seen for temporary workers in the private sector during September. The softest expansion was meanwhile seen for permanent vacancies in the public sector. Notably, growth of demand slowed across all categories with the exception of temporary staff in the public sector.

The Resolution Foundation have also released their latest Labour Market Outlook, for Q3:

  • The employment rate for disabled workers (54%) remains low: 28 percentage points lower than the non-disabled population. Increases in the employment rate for disabled groups with traditionally low employment, rather than any compositional changes to the disabled population, has driven the overall rise in the employment rate for disabled people.
  • There are three times more disabled workers reporting a mental health illness in 2022 (up to 1.1 million people) than there were in 2013, which is equivalent to 3% of the overall working age population. During the same time period, the proportion of the workforce reporting a physical disability as fallen by ten percentage points.
  • Workplace mobility, according to data from Google, is 26% lower than pre-pandemic levels.
  • There are around 320,000 fewer EU nationals working in the UK than at the start of 2020. Over the same period there has been an increase in the number of non-EU nationals working in the UK (around 240,000).
  • The proportion of workers voluntarily moving job (an indicator of worker confidence) has risen above pre- pandemic levels after falling sharply in 2020.
  • The proportion of graduates in non-graduate roles has risen over the past year, but remains below pre-pandemic levels at 35.8%.

And the British Chambers of Commerce also have their Q3 Quarterly Economic Survey out:

  • All indicators of business conditions and confidence have fallen significantly from Q2 positions.
  • More businesses are now seeing their cashflow decreasing, instead of increasing. 32% of firms reported reduced cashflow over the last three months, while 23% reported an increase.
  • 44% of firms expect their turnover to increase over the next 12 months, while 25% expect a decrease. Those expecting an increase is down ten percentage points from 54% in Q2.
  • 33% of businesses believe their profits will increase over the coming year, while 39% now expect a decrease. This is the lowest level since Q4 2020 at the height of the COVID crisis.
  • Unsurprisingly, firms are not upping investment in their business. Only 22% reported an increase to plant/equipment investment in the past three months, while 57% reported no change, and 22% reported a decrease. This is also likely to affect hiring intentions.

Lightcast (which used to be EMSI and Burning Glass) have released a rather nice tool for mapping demand for AI jobs in the UK.

More employers agree (39%) than disagree (30%) with the idea that a move to a four-day week would boost productivity.

The CIPD have been examining attitudes towards the four day working week:

  • 60.5% of workers are happy with their hours. A significant number would like to work fewer hours (31.3%), but only 11.1% of people are willing to work fewer hours for less pay. 8.2% want to work more hours.
  • At present, people with jobs requiring a degree are more likely than those in other roles to be working five days a week, although skilled tradespeople and process, plant and machine workers are more likely than professional workers (but not managers) to be working long hours.
  • 16% of employers have reduced working hours in the past five years, while 10% of employers have done so without reducing pay. 47% of those who did, did so during COVID because of the furlough scheme. Over a third of organisations that had reduced working hours did so for wellbeing reasons, and slightly less than a third did so to help with recruitment and retention. About a third reduced working hours because demand for their services had reduced.
  • For those employers that had reduced working hours, about a third (32%) noted that one challenge was that it did not suit everybody in their organisation. Three in ten said that they were unable to achieve the same volume of work/output as before
  • Most employers (55%) agree that reducing working hours without reducing pay is a great idea but could never happen in their organisation. In contrast, 17% disagree that this could not happen in their organisation, with 28% unsure and neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Interestingly, more employers agree (39%) than disagree (30%) with the idea that a move to a four-day week would boost productivity.
  • 37% think that the four-day week is unlikely to materialise in the next ten years and 34% think it is likely, while 29% are undecided.
  • Employers are in strong agreement (68%) that they will need to boost the adoption of technology in order to move towards a four-day week. Just 7% disagreed.

ADP Research have published their People At Work 2022 report on the global workforce. There are lots of interesting international comparisons here, but I'll focus on the UK data:

  • 88% of UK workers are satisfied in their current job, with 78% optimistic about the next five years.
  • 76% of UK workers experience stress in the workplace. Only German workers are more likely to agree among European workers.
  • 71% of UK workers would look for another job if their employer removed flexible working - only Polish workers are more likely. And UK workers are also the most likely in Europe to consider relocating within their home country for work - but even then, it is only 46%.
  • 68% of UK workers would consider looking for a job elsewhere if they discovered their employer had an unfair gender pay gap or no diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policy.

Graduate roles growing strongly include therapists, social scientists, production and manufacturing, and medical professionals and technicians.

The Irish Central Statistics Office report that the seasonally adjusted Live Register (of people receiving benefits, which can include part time workers) decreased by 1.0% to 184,100 over the month to September 2022.

The CSO also report that production in Manufacturing Industries increased by 8.1% in the three months from June 2022 to August 2022, compared with the previous three-month period.

Also from Ireland, some statistics from the Higher Education Authority on the creative arts:

  • The number of students studying creative arts courses over the past five years has grown from about 14,200 to 14,700. 11% of creative arts students did not progress from Year 1 to Year 2 of their course in 2019/2020. This is compared to 9% of the general student population.
  • In terms of graduate outcomes, 68% of creative arts honours degree graduates are in employment nine months after graduation. This compares to 73% of honours degree graduates overall. A total of 15% are in further study, compared with 20% of honours degree graduates overall.

And we finish with more excellent data from Indeed:

  • Job postings are 43% above the pre-COVID baseline, although much growth is driven by non-graduate roles.
  • Graduate roles growing strongly include therapists, social scientists, production and manufacturing, and medical professionals and technicians.
  • Vacancies dropped 33,000 in August on the single-month measure, though remain close to record levels. With the unemployment rate dropping to just 3.6%, there remains extreme tightness in the labour market with fewer than one unemployed jobseeker per vacancy.
  • There are lots of nice interactive graphs where you can look at city and sector data, so I do recommend taking a look at the report.

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