Jobs boost as recruiting back to pre-Covid levels

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Job recruitment has returned to pre-pandemic levels with hiring intentions at an eight-year high as the economy recovers from the easing of restrictions.

All sectors are experiencing a recovery in jobs and an improvement in pay prospects, a quarterly report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has found.

There is employer optimism across the private, public and voluntary sectors. It extends to industries including retail and hospitality, parts of the economy that have been most exposed to the crisis.

Employment intentions are at their highest since February 2013 when Britain was emerging from the recession of the global financial crisis.

The encouraging outlook comes amid the latest easing of Covid rules today, with pubs, bars, cafés and restaurants allowed to serve customers indoors, and with the latest official jobs figures due tomorrow. They are expected to show that the unemployment rate fell to 4.8 per cent in the three months to March despite lockdown, with government emergency support schemes having protected jobs.

However, experts said it remains likely that the strong employment growth will soften during the course of the year due to the “aftershocks” of the pandemic throughout the economy.

Vacancies in hospitality rose 77 per cent month-on-month in April, the highest level since the pandemic began, but were down 48 per cent compared with pre-crisis levels in February last year, according to separate figures from Broadbean Technology, a network of job boards.

It also found that applications fell “significantly” in April, down 62 per cent month-on-month, with an average of 19 applications for each role.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, the trade association, which expects 865,000 workers to return from furlough this week, said that businesses were still struggling for staff. “Workers are in the wrong place at the wrong time, such as students not at university as well as foreign workers stuck abroad,” she said.

The latest quarterly labour market outlook report by the CIPD, the professional body for human resources, and Adecco, the recruiter, found the net employment intentions balance, which measures the difference between the proportion of employers expecting to add jobs and those planning to cut them, has risen to +27 for the second quarter, compared with +11 in the first quarter of the year.

The report also found salary rise expectations are set to increase from 1 per cent to 2 per cent in the next 12 months but with signs of a re-emergence of a “two-speed” pay market between public and private sector workers.

Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, said that despite the “welcome increase in basic pay expectations, it remains to be seen whether the pay award increases will be able to match any increases in the cost of living caused by the prospect of higher inflation, especially for public sector workers”.