The Office of National Statistics reported that the number of job vacancies between February and April 2022 rose to a new record of 1,295,000 – up 33,700 from the previous quarter and with an increase of just under 500,000 vacancies when compared with the pre-pandemic stats of 2020.

Statistics also show that between January and March 2022, the number of job vacancies was higher than the number of people unemployed in the UK, for the first time ever.

This marks a significant shift in the employment market and appears to indicate a positive shift for workers seeking new roles and jobs. But what has caused it?

The reason why job vacancies are peaking

In last month’s email update and news stories we reported on how the current job market lies in favour of the employees and candidates – that is, the power lies in the hands of those looking for jobs, because there are less candidates than there are positions and so filling vacancies is more difficult.

And while the reopening of businesses after the pandemic is contributing to the increase in vacancies, another factor we must consider is the idea that vacancies are staying unfilled for longer and are thus clogging up the market for a greater period of time – accumulating and contributing to these heightened figures.

The ONS states that the rate of growth in vacancies is positive and shows a move to employ more people and continue the growth and recovery of the UK economy – with some of the most significant growth in the arts, entertainment, and construction industries. Furthermore, with more people moving into employment than ever before, with the number of vacancies larger than the number of people unemployed for the first time ever, it seems as though the challenges are not over for companies looking to fill the gaps in their workload.

Some challenges remain unsolved

Companies are finding that with such high demand for candidates, unfilled vacancies are spending longer sat active on job sites and are not receiving the same interest. This indicates a need for companies to not only refocus their attention on creating desirable job roles with better benefits, but also to continue supporting existing workers in order to protect their retention rate. For some this means more investment in training, while for others it involves pay rises and more.

This is supported by the stats which show an increase in the average rate of pay, in line with the rising cost of living which is leaving workers more stretched than ever before.

So, what’s next?

The government has commissioned a review into the employment market and will be looking for ways to attract more people into the labour market to continue the upward trend of those moving into employment. In addition, it will be looking to understand the challenges faced by companies with vacancies who are struggling to entice workers, creating new systems for skills development and training to pair candidates with roles.