Employers delayed seasonal recruitment over economy fears

Employers have been slower to staff up for Christmas than usual, as fears over demand for goods and the sluggish economy affect recruiters.
November 16, 2023

Employers have been slower to staff up for Christmas than usual, as fears over demand for goods and the sluggish economy affect recruiters.

According to the latest labour market tracker by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and Lightcast, the increase in job adverts in the week to 22 October would in most years be seen at least a month or two earlier in the year. The roles seeing the rise in adverts are seasonal, such as postal workers, mail sorters, messengers and couriers.

Neil Carberry, REC chief executive, said: “It looks like employers’ caution about Christmas demand has led them to wait a few weeks longer than normal to hire.”

This, said the REC, was because of employers’ uncertainty about the anticipated demand for goods and services, against the background of the cost of living crisis, the slow economy, bad weather and international political tension. Footfall in the UK’s high streets fell 1.3% compared with October 2022, according to separate figures from MRI – the fifth successive month of falling footfall set against 2022 figures.

The REC tracker found that there were 2.15 million active job postings in the week to 22 October, a 7.9% increase on the previous week and 57% up on the same week last year, which suggested that vacancies were still high by historical standards, despite a general softening in demand in the labour market. The figure of 2.15 million was high, said the REC, because roles are still taking long to fill amid a labour and skills shortage in some key sectors such as hospitality, healthcare, engineering and logistics.

Carberry said: “It should concern us all that the labour market remains this tight at the bottom of the economic cycle – we are likely to see profound shortages as growth picks up.

“We may get another uptick in new job postings because of seasonal hiring before things cool right down at the close of the year. Jobseekers are just beginning to see signs of a flurry of opportunities to find flexible work with quick starts, in sectors such as retail, hospitality and logistics.”

The survey found that there remained a wide-scale shortage of labour in the health and social care sector, with more than 61,000 job postings for nurses, 16,000 for doctors and more than 81,000 adverts for care workers and home carers.

There was a 91.8% rise in job postings in September 2023 compared to pre-pandemic February 2020, for nursing auxiliaries and assistants and 81.8% for nursery nurses and assistants. Demand for care workers is soaring too, with a 95% rise in job postings for senior care workers and 43.5% for care workers and home carers amid a “dramatic” rise in job postings for social care roles in the UK outside London, when comparing September 2023 to February 2020.

Carberry said: “The wide scale of labour shortages in health and social care is a concern as we head into winter.”

Yesterday, data from the hiring platform Indeed, suggested that seasonal job postings were down compared to 2018-2021, but marginally up on 2022. It found that seasonal job searches had increased 31% since last year, indicating an improvement in candidate supply.

Original Article: Personnel Today

Navigate uncertainties with confidence and capitalize on opportunities for long-term success. For all your recruitment challenges – contact our HR & digital recruitment specialist Gareth Allison on 02920 620702

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