Both jobs and applications decreased in April to the lowest levels seen all year – quite a change from March’s rises. Data from the Wave April 2023 Recruitment Trends Report indicates a slow-down in job activity, which could be attributed to ongoing economic pressures as well as office closures and holidays over Easter.
In a marked change from March’s boost to job activity, April saw drops in both jobs and applications. Jobs were 23% under March figures and applications were 22% under. This has brought the average application per job number down to 13, from 17 in March.
Health & Nursing boosted recruitment with a significant increase in job postings in April, leading to it overtaking IT & Internet as the industry posting the highest percentage of jobs. However, IT & Internet remained the most active industry for applications in April.
Wednesday was the most active day for both jobs and applications, meaning recruiters were in sync with candidates this month.
20th April was the day of the month most jobs were posted and the majority of applications were received on 3rd April. There has been a correlation over the past few months, where jobs are sent later in the month and applications are made earlier.
Job posting and applications per month
April was a slow month in the jobs market, with figures for both jobs and applications lower than they have been all year. At 18% under the 2022 monthly average, job numbers haven’t been this low for well over 6 months. The Office for National Statistics Labour Market Overview for April noted that survey respondents “continue to cite economic pressures as a factor in holding back recruitment.” The long weekend for Easter and people taking leave over the school holidays may also be a factor in the decrease in both jobs and applications figures.
At 13% over the 2022 monthly average, applications may be the lowest to date in 2023 but both December and November 2022 were lower. There could be a correlation in the reduction in jobs (less jobs for candidates to apply for) and the Easter bank holidays could have played a part.
Industries with most jobs and applications
For the first time since December 2021, IT & Internet has been knocked off the top spot for jobs posted. Health & Nursing, a regular in the top 5 for jobs, has further accelerated recruitment and posted 22% of all jobs – the highest percentage across all industries. The fact that it doesn’t appear in the top 5 for applications means that the skills shortage in the industry has further increased. A combination of high levels of burnout, staff shortages and a push for pay increases has led to the strikes we’ve seen over the past 6 months. In the meantime, fewer people want to enter the industry and workers are leaving, resulting in the chronic and worsening shortages we are witnessing.
IT & Internet is just behind Health & Nursing, posting 21% of jobs. The industry also received the highest percentage of applications, indicating a healthy balance. IT & Internet and Health & Nursing posted the lion’s share of jobs in April – nearly 50% of all jobs between them. Education and Manufacturing posted 8% each and also appeared in the top 5 for applications. Property posted 6% of jobs – a new entry into the top 5 – but didn’t make it into the top 5 for applications. Secretarial, PAs & Admin were just behind IT & Internet for applications but didn’t have the jobs to match – a similar situation to Engineering & Utilities.
Average application per job by industry
Banking received by far the highest average number of applications per job in April – a huge 48. Finance also made it into the top 5, although at 22 it received less than half the number that Banking did. However, it’s interesting that two financial services industries are again in the top 5 for average application per job figures. Clearly the pull of a seemingly stable industry that might offer better job security continues to be important to candidates during ongoing turbulent times.
As Health & Nursing posted the highest percentage of jobs in April but didn’t make it into the top 5 for applications, it is perhaps unsurprising that not only did it receive the lowest average number of applications per job, the number halved from March to just 2. Not for Profit & Charities, Education and Property remain 2nd, and joint 3rd lowest and Media, New Media & Creative is a new entry, also joint 3rd lowest at 6.
Average application per job board
The three job boards receiving the highest average number of applications per job are all niche – unchanged from March. IT-focused Jobserve received the highest number at 29, Hospitality and Catering-focused Caterer was second with 21 and Secretarial, PAs & Admin-focused Secs in the City were third with 18. Totaljobs received the highest of the generalist job boards, with an average of 17 applications per job, Reed was second but with half that number at 8, and CV-Library were third with 7.
ONS Labour Market Overview: April 2023
As a trusted source, the labour market statistics published by the Office for National Statistics are used to help inform a range of government policies and are heavily used by the recruitment industry as a barometer of the state of the job market.
Vacancies fell again in April, marking the 9th consecutive quarterly fall. As mentioned, the ONS attributes this to ongoing economic pressures holding businesses back from recruitment. However, the employment rate has increased, driven by part-time employees and self-employed workers according to the ONS. The unemployment rate also increased, driven by people unemployed for up to six months. Economic inactivity fell again, indicating an increase in people joining or rejoining the job market.
The increase in Health & Nursing jobs (without an increase in applications) will likely not come as a surprise to anyone working in the industry. Analysis by the ONS, published by The Guardian, found that one on ten job vacancies posted online in December were in healthcare – more than any other industry. In fact, healthcare was the job category with the highest share of adverts in almost 90% of local authorities in the UK. The ONS said the increased share of healthcare adverts was part of a longer-term trend in demand. The sector’s share of online job adverts has been increasing consistently since 2017, even when factoring out the rise in relative demand for healthcare workers during the height of the pandemic.
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