Advertised Salary Growth for Graduate Jobs Has Stagnated

The UK Labour Market Review: April 2023

Published on Apr 27, 2023

Written by Elena Magrini & Rob Slane

The UK Labour Market Review

The latest Labour Market Overview from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) pointed to a number of interesting happenings in the labour market, including:

  • A slight rise in unemployment between December and February from 3.7% to 3.8%

  • A fall of 47,000 in the number of estimated job vacancies between January and March

  • Growth in regular pay, but at 6.6% year-on-year this is still well below inflation

In this month’s UK Labour Market Review, we use Lightcast Job Posting Analytics to give an up-to-date assessment of some of these trends, particularly in terms of employer demand, advertised salaries and – excitingly – a look at some of the fastest growing emerging skills.

New job postings are cruising after two years of rapid acceleration

Our data confirms what the ONS vacancy data suggests, which is that there appears to be a slight cooling in employer demand, at least when compared to the extremely fast growth we saw throughout 2021 and into the beginning of 2022. As the chart below shows, it’s not that we are seeing a slump in employer demand – it is still tracking well above the levels seen before 2021 – but rather that the rate of growth has slowed and we are seeing a more stable situation, with new job postings remaining at around 1.1 million for the third consecutive month. To use a car analogy, for the past two years employer demand accelerated quickly from 0-60, but now seems to have hit cruising speed.

Advertised salaries are increasing, but not for graduate roles

When we look at our data on changes to salaries advertised by employers, here we uncover an extremely interesting trend. Median advertised salaries in March for all jobs were 7.6% higher than 12 months prior, which is a significant increase, albeit still below the 10.1% current rate of inflation. But when we split this down into job postings for graduate and non-graduate roles, what we find is that the growth for graduate positions is just 4%, compared to 8.1% for non-graduate roles. In other words, although both have been growing, advertised salaries for graduate roles are tracking at just half the rate of growth for non-graduate roles. When we add to this the effects of inflation, the situation looks even starker for graduate job seekers.

Fastest monthly growth in job postings seen in Belfast and Glasgow

In our previous Labour Market Reviews, when we’ve looked at month-on-month growth in job postings across the country, we’ve tended to find growth even in the top hotspots at no more than around 20%. This month, however, there are a couple of areas that have seen much greater growth than this. Belfast and Glasgow saw growth of 59.7% and 33.9% respectively for all job postings, and 63.5% and 39.8% respectively for graduate roles.

In terms of broader trends, most of the hotspots were in the South, with places like Reading, Swindon, Oxford and Wiltshire seeing growth in all postings and graduate positions. In contrast, seven of the ten places seeing the largest month-on-month decline in job postings were in the North and Midlands.

What emerging skills are we seeing in the UK labour market?

Finally in this month’s Review, we look at a category of skills which are a hot topic amongst policymakers, educators and employers: emerging skills. In terms of how we define these, we have looked at those skills that appeared in fewer than 1% of job postings in 2019, but which have then seen the most growth in job adverts over the following three years.

The chart below shows the 20 fastest growing emerging skills, and there are a number of interesting trends that immediately jump out:

  • Skills such as clinical informatics and human resource software suggest the digitalisation of occupations and/or sectors that we didn’t see before

  • A high proportion of emerging skills relate to environmental issues, such as air quality and emissions, climate change, clean energy, solar energy, and conservation

  • There are also a couple of skills relating to the digital currency phenomenon, such as cryptocurrency and blockchain

Elena Magrini, Lightcast's Head of Global Research commented:

"Our job postings data confirms what the latest ONS job vacancy data revealed, which is that we seem to be seeing a definite cooling of employer demand. Our data on advertised salaries also chimes with what the ONS is reporting about wage increases – which is that they are rising, but below the level of inflation.

What we can’t see from the ONS data but we can see in our job postings data is that this increase is not evenly distributed between graduate and non-graduate roles. Rather, the percentage increase in advertised salaries for graduate roles is currently tracking at just half that for non-graduate roles. On top of that, advertised salaries for graduate roles appear to be stabilising, while we continue to see growth in advertised salaries for non-graduate positions. While this is encouraging, as non-graduate roles tend to offer lower salaries, the growth is still negative once taking inflation into account, meaning the cost of living crisis is still very much felt across the labour market."

We’ll be back with another UK Labour Market Review on 15th May - the day before the next ONS Labour Market release.

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