A new report suggests the next few months will see an increase in public sector jobs, especially in health and education.
A new quarterly Labour Market Outlook survey predicts a growth in public sector hiring after years of contraction, with women set to benefit most.
The survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and The Adecco Group shows that public sector employment growth is expected to increase in line with the private sector for the first time since 2008. Areas set to benefit, says the report, are public administration, healthcare and education as the Government addresses the impact of years of austerity.
It says women already account for around two thirds of the public sector workforce, suggesting that increased hiring by public sector employers will provide more jobs for women who have been disproportionately affected by closures in the retail sector.
The report measures employment confidence in the next three months and shows an increase in the public sector, compared to a fall in the private sector, although both are in positive territory.
Based on a survey of more than 1,000 employers, it also shows that confidence is highest in healthcare, construction and the voluntary sector while it has fallen relatively sharply among manufacturing employers. The survey also predicts pay is unlikely to rise much in the next year: it says pay rises are likely to be kept at just 2% over the next 12 months. Those who couldn’t afford a 2% rise cited affordability, pay restraint in the public sector and the impact of rises in the National Living Wage as reasons.
The survey also shows skills shortages are an ongoing issue for employers. Around two-thirds of employers (64%) who have vacancies report that at least some of these vacancies are proving hard to fill. In addition, almost four in ten (38%) employers report being unable to fill a permanent vacancy during the past year, with roles in healthcare, engineering, teaching and IT being the most prevalent. Around a quarter (24%) of all employers have increased investment in skills in the last two years to address hard to fill vacancies. One in five (19%) have offered more apprenticeships, rising to 29% among public sector employers. This suggests the Apprenticeship Levy may be acting as a catalyst for more activity.
Alex Fleming, Country Head and President of Staffing and Solutions, the Adecco Group UK and Ireland, said: “The increase in public sector employment confidence is very positive for our labour market and shows that demand remains strong, despite the recent times of political uncertainty.
“The report’s findings also suggest that the number of women in work is likely to continue to rise which is promising, as a strong focus on diversity and inclusion is proven to be highly beneficial to organisations. However, there is still evidence of hard to fill vacancies, with 38% of organisations saying they have been prevented from filling a permanent role in the last 12 months. It’s therefore important that organisations continue to focus on developing and upskilling their employees through training and apprenticeships, to not only help tackle recruitment challenges, but also create a working environment where all talent can develop and thrive.”
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics this week show the number of women in work has reached a record high, due in part to the increase in the retirement age for women. The number in self employment has also risen as has the number of people generally in full-time work.