‘Summer job vacancies recovery driven by growth in lower skilled work’

New analysis shows job postings were boosted mainly by lower skilled roles in the summer and that Central London is facing a particular employment problem.

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Vacancies in routine jobs rose sharply as a percentage of all job adverts over the summer while the proportion of high-skilled professional roles feel, according to new analysis.

The analysis of online job adverts by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that the slow improvement in vacancies since the first lockdown masked significant differences across job types and places.

Drawing on vacancy data collected by the Adzuna job search engine it showed that, while vacancies overall remain around one third lower (37%) than before the crisis began, the summer recovery saw vacancies in high-skilled professional jobs fall from two fifths of all openings in June (41%) to just over a quarter by the end of September (28%).  At the same time vacancies in routine elementary jobs nearly doubled, from 6 to 11% of all openings.  According to the analysis, mid-skilled jobs, including skilled trades, held up during the summer, driven by a recovery in manufacturing and construction.

The research finds that the most significant improvements in vacancy levels have been in predominantly more rural, semi-rural and ex-industrial areas – where vacancies in October were back to pre-crisis levels. However, those area types tend to have fewer job openings overall, says the IES.  In more urban, industrial and thiriving rural areas, vacancies had recovered to between 15 and 30% of pre-crisis levels.

In Central London however, the IES says vacancies in October were actually lower than they were during lockdown.  Job openings were at less than half of pre-crisis levels in October. London has the highest level of vacancies overall and has accounted for nearly one third of all employment growth since 2010.

Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said: “These figures show that the recovery in job vacancies after the first lockdown has been extremely fragile, with the strongest growth in lower skilled work and big falls in professional recruitment.  This has hit London particularly hard, with job postings in Central London still lower than they were during lockdown itself.  This is risking a ‘levelling down’ in the labour market, with recruitment likely to weaken further during this second lockdown.  So the Spending Review later this month will need a much greater focus on how we can get hiring going again by the end of the year, particularly into higher skilled work.  This needs to include reducing the costs of hiring for employers, greater public investment in job creation and, of course, getting a good deal on Brexit so that firms have the confidence to invest and create jobs.”

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