Job adverts rise again as IT stays on top

Monday 23 September 2013

The number of job opportunities advertised in the UK ticked upwards in the second quarter, according to a new study which will give finance and IT contractors a significant boost.

Vacancy adverts rose by a modest but noticeable four per cent in Q2 from the previous three months, the UK Job Index from Robert Walters shows - a figure which the recruiter says indicates growing confidence in the job market. As staff become more likely to move around and vacancies open up, contractors and interims in a wide range of sectors will be able to take advantage of new opportunities. At the same time growing business activity is likely to raise demand for skills in a wide range of disciples, many of which are suffering from acute talent shortages.

Across nine European countries, the UK was one of just two which posted positive movement. Britain may have been outstripped by Luxembourg’s eight per cent increase, but fared well compared to static growth in France and declines in Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands and even Europe’s economic powerhouse Germany.

Unsurprisingly, IT continues to be the biggest of all the sectors studied individually in the UK, with vacancies in the field reaching 13 per cent of the total. Robert Walters says that this is largely down to large numbers of startups and growing businesses seeking to expand their operations beyond the UK and into Europe. At the same time, support functions for some big companies are being moved around the UK, shifting the location of demand.

Still, IT is nothing if not consistent, with vacancies only rising by a relatively minor two per cent. Some of the biggest success stories are apparent in smaller sectors - in particular, it is banking and financial services contractors who have plenty to smile about. Although the relatively diminutive field only accounted for four per cent of the total advertised job market in Q2, this marked a substantial rise of as much as 27 per cent. Firms seeking to cope with changes to banking regulation may well have contributed to this rise.

“There was an element of cautious confidence in the market in Q2, particularly evident in London and the South East,” says Chris Hickey, chief executive of Robert Walters UK, Middle East and Africa. “Large financial services institutions showed signs of improvement, and people within this sector have been more confident in seeking new opportunities.

“There was also greater activity within IT as a number of start-ups sought to expand their European footprint. Outside of the South East, a number of multinational corporations continued to shift their support functions to lower cost regions (Manchester and Birmingham), leading to a demand in these areas for professionals from across a number of sectors.”

Some of the other key contractor disciplines also posted strong performance. Engineering roles comprised nearly a tenth of the advertised vacancies, meaning the discipline is still among those in particularly high demand, while five per cent of the job market was devoted to marketing positions. Among the fastest-growing sectors, insurance and legal services also rose significantly. In spite of their relative size, these fields registered increases of 16 and 15 per cent respectively.

By Victoria McDonnell

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