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UK graduate labour market update: 5 October

October 2021

Charlie Ball's regular summary of data and reports from the graduate labour market, brought to you by Prospects Luminate and Jisc Data Analytics

The latest round of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) fast response experimental statistics on the impact of COVID were released on the 23 September:

  • The furlough scheme has now ended. At the time the scheme was wound down, 5% of the workforce remained on it.
  • 72% of the workforce were at their normal place of work on 19 September
  • According to Adzuna, on 24 September 2021, the total volume of online job adverts in the UK stood at 135% of its February 2020 average level.
  • Of the 28 categories, only legal (89.9%), travel/tourism (97%) and energy, oil and gas (94.8%) are below pre-pandemic levels.
  • In the latest week, volumes of online job adverts remained above their February 2020 average levels in all UK countries and English regions. The lowest is in London at 116.6%.

Employees with degrees were much the least likely group to be furloughed as 84% of degree holders were never furloughed.

There's also an analysis of those who have been furloughed:

  • One in four people who have been employees during the pandemic had been on furlough at some point between March 2020 and June 2021.
  • Employees with degrees were much the least likely group to be furloughed as 84% of degree holders were never furloughed.
  • Employees in professional level roles were less likely to be furloughed than those who were not.
  • 8% of people who have ever been furloughed were no longer employed in the three months to June 2021. This is a similar proportion to employees who had never been furloughed (7%).
  • Half of those furloughed were furloughed for more than three months and this group were less likely to be employees by August 2021, when compared with those furloughed for a shorter time. About a quarter of people who have ever been furloughed were furloughed for six months or more in total.
  • Current employees who had ever been furloughed were more likely to be in part-time work than those who were never furloughed (30% of furloughed workers compared with 23% of workers who were never furloughed). They were also more than twice as likely to be on a zero-hours contract than those who were never furloughed, at 5% and 2% respectively.
  • Current employees who had ever been furloughed were also more likely to be looking to change their employment situation. They were more likely to be looking for a different or additional job (7% compared with 5%) and were twice as likely to report that they were looking for this work because of the pandemic (21% compared with 12%).
  • Once differences in personal characteristics, education level and most recent job details were accounted for, people who have been furloughed were just over one percentage point more likely to be out of work (either inactive or unemployed).
  • 86% of workers who were furloughed in April to June 2020 were still with the same employer they were furloughed from 12 months later. A higher proportion (94%) of employees who had never been furloughed remained with the same employer in the same period.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation's (REC) monthly Jobs Outlook, produced in conjunction with Savanta ComRes, is now out:

  • In the three months to August, business confidence in their ability to hire new staff and make investment decisions remained high at net: +25.
  • Hiring intentions over the next three months rose by three percentage points to net: +25, while demand for the next 4-12 months also increased to net: +30. Demand for temporary staff is also high at net: +17 in the short term and net: +10 in the medium term.
  • Business confidence in the UK economy rose by one percentage point to net: +19, suggesting that issues caused by worker shortages don't appear to have dented confidence in the economy overall.
  • In August, six in ten (58%) who recruit temporary agency workers were experiencing a shortage of suitable candidates to fill current roles.

The graduate gender pay gap

The Institute of Fiscal Studies have an interesting report about the gender pay gap for graduates.

There is a lot of focus on the role of unequal childcare responsibilities in understanding the gender pay gap. But even before they have had their first child, women are paid less than similarly-qualified men. At age 25, the average male graduate earns 5% more per year than the average female graduate.

This is despite the fact that women are more likely to get a first class degree or a 2:1 than men. By age 30 - before most graduates start having children - the gender pay gap in annual earnings stands at 25%.

Differences in degree subject choices explain most of the gender pay gap soon after graduation. Of the 5% gap in annual earnings at age 25, 2.9 percentage points (55%) can be accounted for by university subjects, with A-level subject choices making up a further 0.2 percentage points (5%).

Subject choice continues to contribute between three and five percentage points to the gender pay gap over graduates' early careers. But over this period, other factors lead to a widening of the gender pay gap, so that by age 30, subject choice explains only a fifth of the total gender pay gap.

Aviation job postings lag 47% behind pre-pandemic levels, and multiple reports suggest that this section of the market may have experienced a permanent downturn.

Indeed have provided an update on UK vacancies through to 24 September:

  • UK job postings on Indeed advanced further in the latest fortnight. Job postings were 28.5% above the 1 February 2020, pre-pandemic baseline, seasonally adjusted, as of 24 September 2021
  • In the UK, HGV driver jobs receive one-third of the clicks relative to the average posting in the wider driving category. The median advertised wage in driving job postings rose 7.6% between February and August. For HGV drivers specifically, the rise was 12.8%. Across all jobs on Indeed, median wages rose just 1.0%.
  • Loading & stocking and cleaning & sanitation postings are at least double pre-pandemic levels. Other categories also show impressive growth, including certain healthcare occupations, retail, manufacturing, food preparation & service and driving.
  • Conversely, aviation job postings lag 47% behind pre-pandemic levels, and multiple reports suggest that this section of the market may have experienced a permanent downturn. Crawley, a town heavily dependent on aerospace, is one of only two (Aberdeen, reliant on oil and gas being the other) towns in the UK with vacancies below pre-pandemic levels.

Indeed have also looked at job-seeker behaviour in the UK and Ireland:

  • 7% of respondents in the UK and 8% in Ireland said they were urgently looking for a job in August, while 17% in both countries said they were searching without urgency and 28% were passively searching in the UK and 26% in Ireland.
  • Among those searching for a job in the UK, respondents aged 18 to 24 seemed keener to find work than older age groups. Some 17% of those aged 18 to 24 looking for a job said they were searching urgently, a higher proportion than among older cohorts. A further 46% said they were actively looking but without urgency, again higher than among older groups. The most widely cited reason for searching urgently among already-employed people 18 to 24 was insufficiency of their existing hours. By contrast, every other age group said it was because their wage or salary was too small. 
  • In Ireland, of all those who were open to searching for a job, the 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 categories reported the highest shares of urgent search. In many cases, this was because they said their salary or wage was insufficient. The 18 to 24 age group had the lowest share of urgent search, albeit also the highest share who were actively looking but without urgency. The older age groups (45 to 54 and 55 to 64) had a majority of people who were only passively searching.
  • When asked when they would like to start a new job, the most popular answer in both the UK and Ireland remained when there are more job opportunities. Even though job postings are well above pre-pandemic levels, people may feel the available roles aren't necessarily a good fit for their experience, interests or location and may be better off waiting for alternatives.

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