While latest official figures point to yet a further increase in the number of people in work, evidence suggests employers are really struggling to fill roles.
Data from the Office for National Statistics revealed an increase of 168,000 in the number of people in work to 32.2m, while wages grew by 2.6% but unemployment rose by 24,000 to 1.45m in the three months to January.
Commenting on the data, Recruitment & Employment Confederation director of policy Tom Hadley said with the number of vacancies holds close to a record high, employers need even more workers to fill roles.
“There are plenty of jobs out there for candidates with high in-demand skills, which could be anyone from drivers to nurses to baristas. Employers have to compete with each other to attract those people and our data shows that one way they are making themselves more attractive is by offering higher starting pay.
“Although inflation remains above pay growth, the positive news is the gap looks to be closing. Employers should think about what else they can offer staff in terms of training and benefits too. In many sectors, employers are facing a staffing crisis. It’s a smart move to incentivise your current staff to stay with you at a time when they could be getting competitive pay offers elsewhere.”
According to Tara Sinclair, economist and senior fellow at global job site Indeed, the average Briton’s paypacket still isn’t keeping up with the rising cost of living, and in January average regular wages slipped by 0.2% in real terms.
“But with yesterday’s confirmation that consumer price rises are slowly easing, both the Office for Budget Responsibility and the Bank of England are now predicting that real wages will find themselves back in positive territory over the coming months as inflation falls further.
“With the economy inching closer to full employment, we’re seeing some interesting anomalies – the number of employed and unemployed people both rose. The reason for this seeming contradiction is the return to the labour market of people who had previously been economically inactive.”
Meanwhile Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of careers site CV-Library, called the figures good news for the economy.
“Our own data found that advertised jobs were up by 11.2% in January 2018 compared to the previous year, yet candidate appetite is failing to keep up with employer demand.
“Professionals are nervous about their position in the current market – and who can blame them. The government has not been clear enough about Brexit plans, meaning many workers seek financial stability in their current employment. In turn, recruiters are having to become more creative with their hiring efforts, in order to attract the best talent.”