Summer Job Postings Decline Highest for Graduate Roles

The UK Labour Market Review: September 2023

Published on Sep 22, 2023

Written by Elena Magrini & Rob Slane

The UK Labour Market Review

As usual, we begin our UK Labour Market Review by looking at the data from the Office of National Statistics in their most recent Labour Market Overview. According to their September report, the latest trends in unemployment, salary, and job vacancy data were as follows:

The traditional UK hiring summer cool-off

Looking at our more up-to-date job postings data, the three-month rolling average up to August shows that the number of job postings fell by 4.5% on last month, dipping below one million for the first time since the start of the year. However, it being August the likelihood is that this lull in postings is a factor of summer, when employer hiring activity often drops off for obvious reasons. Next month’s data will help us understand whether this was indeed down to the summer lull, or whether we are seeing a more general cooling off of the labour market.

One other thing to note on the job postings front is that demand for graduate jobs in August fell by more than that for non-graduate roles, with drops of 5.7% and 3.0% respectively.

Salary stability ... of a sort

Looking at advertised salaries, the story here is one of stability for both graduate and non-graduate roles, with both staying at the same amounts as last month at £39,600 and £26,000 respectively. That being the case, it might look a little odd to see that advertised salaries for all jobs actually dipped slightly, from £31,600 last month to £31,000 this month. The explanation for this seemingly odd occurrence is connected with what we saw in the chart above. That is, because there was a more pronounced fall in (higher paid) graduate postings than (lower paid) non-graduate postings, this means that overall advertised salary amounts have fallen slightly.

The UK's fastest growing in-demand occupations

Our data enables us to dive much deeper past the headline job postings and advertised salary figures shown above, to help us understand far more about current employer demand. Using our Lightcast Occupation Taxonomy (LOT), we compared job postings for over 1,900 specialised occupations in Q2 of 2023 with the same period in 2022 (note: we then filtered out occupations with fewer than 1,000 postings). The chart below shows the top 20 occupations in terms of year-on-year growth. There is an interesting mix of occupations being sought by employers, with Interpreter/Translator seeing by far the biggest growth (461.5%), followed by Sales Delivery Driver (103.4%), and Painter (102.9%).

The UK’s fastest growing in-demand skills

In addition to LOT, using the Lightcast Skills Library of over 32,000 current labour market skills terms, we can dig down into really granular detail to see which skills are seeing the highest growth in demand across the country.

In the chart below, we've included the top 20 skills subcategories and the top 20 specialised skills appearing in employer job postings in Q2 of 2023, measured in terms of the percentage of total postings they were mentioned in. The skills subcategories include a number of important general skills, such as communication, initiative and leadership, and critical thinking and problem solving. With the specialised skills, we can see that there has been a particular emphasis over the last quarter on finance skills, such as finance, auditing, and invoicing

Duncan Brown, Lightcast's VP of Global Innovation commented:

"There can be a lull in employer job advertisements during the summer period, and the 4.5% decline in postings in August may be partly explained by this, or may reflect tighter economic conditions. Next month’s data should hopefully give us more clues as to whether this is the case or if we are seeing a more general cooling off in employer demand.

“A really fascinating aspect of this month’s data is that the decline in postings was more marked for graduate positions than non-graduate ones. This has meant that the gap between postings for these different types of roles is now closer than at any point since the beginning of 2020, with 0.52 million postings for graduate roles and 0.47 million for non-graduate. In the same way, advertised salaries for non-graduate roles continue their trend of increasing while graduate roles are broadly stable. Again, next month’s data should be instructive as to whether we are seeing a blip or a trend.”

We’ll be back with another UK Labour Market Review shortly after the October ONS release.

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