Happy New Year! And welcome to Charlie Ball's first graduate labour market update of 2022, brought to you by Prospects Luminate and Jisc Data Analytics
This is a short update covering the Christmas and New Year period. Here's a very brief overview of where we are now:
- The labour market continues to recover but it looks like Omicron is putting a dent in that. Medium-term demand remains strong though, and if we do see more business restrictions be prepared for another situation like late spring last year where business all tried to recruit at once.
- The number of people out of work is below pre-pandemic levels, but hours worked is still well-below pre-COVID numbers, so although we didn't see the level of job loss many people feared, a lot of workers are back at work but on reduced hours - and earnings.
- The skilled labour market for college and particularly for university graduates is very strong and it looks like a lot of older professionals took retirement during the pandemic so that means more vacancies. As yet we don't know how good that's been for new graduates though.
- Occupational shortages are here to stay, so we will have to get used to them.
- Candidate availability is as low as it's ever been and the ratio of vacancies to jobs as high as it's ever been. Recruitment is going to remain a struggle.
- A quiet story has been the steady drop in self-employment in the UK.
- It looks as if workers might be developing a different attitude towards the jobs market. Jobs searches have less urgency, job quality is more important than pay.
- Hybrid working is here to stay - at least for professionals, particularly in business services and IT. It may be that hybrid working becomes largely a thing that graduates do though.
- Occupational shortages means that business are having to invest more in training and development, something UK plc as a whole has badly underinvested in recent years.
- Business is still working through many of the implications of hybrid working. Recruitment, for example, works pretty well, but businesses and workers alike are a lot less convinced that hybrid onboarding is as effective as it could be.
- There are particular implications about health, wellbeing and the way that can be supported that are still very live discussions. Most workers feel that, on balance, their wellbeing is better as a consequence of hybrid working but where issues do arise it's not clear yet that business yet has very clear and effective methods of support.
Women aged 25 to 34 were most likely to report work-related stress, anxiety or depression, while rates were higher than average among those working in the public admin and defence, health and social care and education sectors.
On the 23 December, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released more data on the impact of the pandemic on business and the economy:
- In the week to 18 December 2021, overall retail footfall in the UK remained at 81% of the level seen in the equivalent week of 2019. This is slightly lower than the previous week where overall retail footfall was at 82% of the equivalent week of 2019. Considering the timing, this is at best mixed news for the hard-pressed retail industry.
- The total volume of online job adverts on 17 December 2021 was at 131% of its February 2020 average level. The highest level of job adverts relative to February 2020 continued to be in the 'transport, logistics and warehouse' category, at 294%.
- 14% of businesses not permanently stopped trading reported their workforce were working from home in the period 29 November to 12 December 2021, this is up from 12% the previous week. 17% were using a hybrid working model.
The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) released data from their monthly Jobs Outlook on 22 December:
- Business confidence in the UK economy fell by nine percentage points to a net: -6. This was the first time the barometer fell into negative territory since February to April 2021, indicating that confidence is dropping. It comes as uncertainty around rising inflation, labour shortages and the Omicron variant has increased over the past three months.
- Business confidence in making hiring and investment decisions continued to improve, however, with a higher proportion of firms saying their prospects were still improving. However, that growth in confidence weakened slightly, falling by two percentage points to net: +11.
- Demand for temporary workers in the next three months increased notably to net: +15. Demand for the next four to 12 months also rose by nine points to net: +14.
- Hiring intentions for permanent staff remained robust at net: +21, both in the short term and in the medium term.
- In November, roughly one month after the end of the furlough scheme, the majority of employers (51%) had seen no change in the availability of candidates for vacancies. However, slightly more employers (19%) experienced a reduction in the number of appropriate candidates than experienced an increase (12%).
The Health and Safety Executive's annual report finds that stress, anxiety and depression were the cause of half of all work-related illness in the last year:
- In recent years prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the rate of self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety had shown signs of increasing. In 2020/21 the rate was higher than the 2018/19 pre-coronavirus levels.
- Women aged 25 to 34 were most likely to report work-related stress, anxiety or depression, while rates were higher than average among those working in the public admin and defence, health and social care and education sectors.
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