Job vacancies rising at the fastest rate in more than 15 years

The number of job vacancies on offer is rising at the fastest rate in more than 15 years as employers cannot get enough skilled staff, according to new data.

But while the news from the Recruitment Employment Confederation/KPMG jobs survey is a boost to jobseekers, it also highlights problems with careers guidance that have the potential to hamper the country’s economic recovery, reports The Telegraph.

The survey found that in January the number of job vacancies rose at its fastest pace since May 1998, with the index hitting 67.6, up from 65.7 the previous month, where a reading above 50 signals improvement.

However, recruitment consultants reported that staff availability continued to decline, with a reading of 44.6, although the speed at which it was worsening was slowing.

Tom Hadley, director of policy at the REC, said: “There are skills shortages across all sectors. This again underlines just how critical the issue of skills shortages is becoming, as businesses will not be able to contribute to economic growth if they cannot find the skilled workers they need.

“Part of the solution is to develop a careers guidance network that is fit for purpose. There’s been a disconnect between careers advice since what was available was replaced with a website.

“People need to be made aware of the growing sectors and what skills will be needed in the future, they also need to be taught the mechanics of finding work.”

He added that job centres are staffed by people who are “generalists by definition” but suggested getting local companies involved to “harness businesses’ knowledge”.

“It makes sense to use the business community so people know what is coming,” Mr Hadley said. “They can say first-hand what is coming in the next few years and what areas are going to expand.”

He also said that people with knowledge of industries that might not seem attractive at first glance being on hand to give advice would be useful as they could explain what doors an entry level job could open up.

“Promoting careers in sectors such as hospitality would be good,” Mr Hadley said. “It’s not a great entry salary but after a couple of year there’s more opportunity, and you could have a great deal of responsibility after five years. The idea of career progression needs to be promoted in industries that people seem reluctant to dip a toe into.”

Despite the soaring number of job vacancies, KPMG urged caution that the increases may not continue.

Bernard Brown, a partner at KPMG, said: “Job placements have increased so much since the end of the summer that people would be forgiven for thinking we are on an upward curve, with no sign of employment growth tailing off.

“As organisations gain confidence it’s a trend that is likely to continue, but we should also be wary that the positive signs of recent months have not yet faced a stern test.”
He added that with the UK’s drive to boost exports leading the growth, any geo-political changes or disruptions to supply chains could have a major effect.