Job ads rise in UK, firms ready for growth

19 Apr 2024

Job postings in the UK are on the rise as businesses throughout the country are preparing for growth. Last month, there were 848,004 new job adverts, a 4.2% increase over February, according to The Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) most recent Labour Market Tracker. Although the number of active job postings reached 1,908,641 in March, highlighting “marginal growth” of 1.1% compared to the month before, the REC affirmed the rise was fuelled by new postings. According to the REC chief executive Neil Carberry, the increase in job ads was an indication businesses were “gearing up for growth.” He added: “We shouldn’t get carried away, as activity is still well below last year’s levels at this point, but further declines in market activity now seem less likely, especially as inflation and pay awards are normalising.”

Out of recession?

According to Office for National Statistics data, the UK economy grew 0.1% in February, fuelling hopes the country is moving out of recession. Indeed, the increase in job postings highlighted a sense of “improved confidence” among employers, said the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s senior labour market economist, Jon Boys. That said, he added that recruitment stats may provide a clearer snapshot of Britain’s labour market, saying there is “no guarantee” the job ads will be filled, People Management reports. “Although demand for staff may be increasing, with unemployment relatively low, there are fewer candidates looking for and available to work. Employers experiencing talent shortages may continue to do so,” Boys stated.

Improvement to labour market

The slight increase in job openings is a positive indication that the UK’s job market might be improving. Nonetheless, given the prolonged period of decreasing job vacancies, it's uncertain whether this shift is a lasting change. Additionally, elevated levels of economic inactivity due to prolonged illness were worsening the labour shortage and could potentially hinder efforts to fill the newly available positions. “A growing number of job postings doesn’t necessarily alleviate talent shortages overnight,” according to Jo Benelisha, director of Strictly Recruitment. “Businesses may still face challenges in finding candidates with the right skills and qualifications, especially in specialised fields or industries experiencing rapid growth. Addressing talent shortages may require long-term investments in education and training programmes, as well as innovative recruitment and retention strategies.”

Yet, CEO of Tiger Recruitment, David Morel said the REC’s latest data “corroborates our own findings that the market is demonstrating positivity,” citing “a flurry of new temporary and permanent vacancies.”

Consequently, as inflation and salaries become more stable, it’s likely that this optimistic outlook among employers will persist for the remainder of the year.