Job vacancies up 8% as shortage of skills takes its toll

The number of jobs advertised last month was higher than at the same time last year, suggesting that Britain’s booming jobs market was not affected by the EU referendum result, according to Reed.co.uk, the recruitment website.

There were 8.2 per cent more vacancies on offer last month compared with a year before, it said, as employers continued to take on new staff.

Skills shortages are high in many sectors of the economy because of record employment levels, which mean there are fewer skilled workers looking for a job. The figures from the UK’s biggest jobs site show that more than two thirds of all sectors in the economy were healthier than they were last year, with education, construction and security leading the way, while Northern Ireland and northwest England saw the fastest increase in job vacancies.

Several surveys have shown that while optimism has decreased among businesses, job cuts have been small as employers take a “wait and see” approach over Brexit negotiations.

Reed.co.uk reported that the number of jobs advertised in manufacturing also showed an annual increase, of 18.4 per cent, which it said was an “especially encouraging sign for longer-term economic prospects” after a survey of business activity showed manufacturing output dropping to its lowest level since February 2013.

However, the number of vacancies in banking and energy fell 15.8 per cent and 14.7 per cent, respectively. The fall in gas and oil prices has hurt staffing levels in the energy sector, while banks have been hit by customers deserting the high street for digital channels and uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Last week Lloyds said that it was cutting 3,000 jobs and closing 200 branches.

The number of jobs being advertised fell marginally from a month earlier, dropping from 8.9 per cent in June to 8.2 per cent in July. In addition, the average rate of growth for job vacancies for 2016 so far is 9.6 per cent, compared with 28 per cent for the same period a year ago, suggesting that there has been an overall decline in the number of employers looking to hire new staff.

James Reed, chairman of Reed.co.uk, said that the Bank of England should cut interest rates to help to avoid a downturn and any rise in job cuts. “This is an important moment for policymakers because decisions made this summer will have an impact for many years to come. If it was up to me, I would aggressively cut taxes and interest rates to avert a recession,” he said.

A study by Totaljobs.com, another recruitment website, said that 44 per cent of companies it questioned said that Brexit would not affect the number of people they hired. About 54 per cent said they would not delay their hiring plans, while three fifths said they would not cut jobs because of Brexit.

About Steve Young

Steve Young is the Managing Partner of Downtown Recruitment who are based in Thame, Oxfordshire. Downtown Recruitment provide a wide variety of temporary and permanent staff to the local area covering a wide range of disciplines across the commercial and industrial sectors. View Downtown Recruitment's main website
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