The UK employment rate from June to August 2022 stood at 75.5 percent, according to the latest Labour Market data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This was 0.3 percent lower than the previous quarter (March-May 2022) which had a higher employment rate than other periods.

Also, in real terms over the year, total pay fell by a staggering 2.4 percent. Also, regular pay fell by 2.9 percent. ONS states that this “is slightly smaller than the record fall in real regular pay we saw April to June 2022 (3.0%), but still remains among the largest falls in growth since comparable records began in 2001.”

Responding to the latest ONS data, which showed a decline in vacancies in July to September 2022, HRreview has gathered expert insights into the impacts of this on the recruitment market. 

Ben Harrison, Director of the Work Foundation at Lancaster University: 

“Today’s ONS data shows that employers are struggling to fill vacancies as unemployment hits a 48-year low. We are still seeing increasing numbers not looking for work due to long-term sickness – and 107,000 extra 50-64 year olds are no longer looking for work compared to the previous quarter.

“The Government is right to focus on driving growth in the economy, but it cannot do so without tackling the UK’s participation issue. If the Prime Minister is to be true to her word on ‘taking tough decisions’, her administration should drop the rhetoric on benefit claimants needing to work harder and instead focus the full power of Government to support those who have dropped out of the labour market, including those not receiving Universal Credit.

“A cross-agency Participation Taskforce should be established to address the complex underlying health and social issues to help support more people back into work. Without targeted action, labour shortages will impact the UK economy’s prospects of growth.”

Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo):

“While there’s certainly a slowdown in hiring activity – with our own Recruitment Trends data showing that vacancy numbers fell during September – that doesn’t mean that the recruitment struggles the UK has been experiencing have eased. The continued decline noted in unemployment levels alongside vacancy levels which are still up on pre-pandemic numbers, shows that the labour market is still struggling through a shortage of highly skilled individuals.

“The uptick in the number of self-employed workers further supports the idea that there is a shortage of experts across the professional recruitment sector. While this will certainly be aided by the repeal of Off Payroll announced in the Chancellor’s Mini Budget, the full impact of this won’t be felt until Q2 2023 when the legislation itself is repealed. 

“Reliance on the contractor market alone won’t be enough to fill the skills void being felt across the UK. Just this week we saw reports of the country facing a ‘brain drain’ of scientists and engineers as Brexit continues to drive highly skilled individuals out of the country over funding concerns. 

“The UK’s labour market needs strengthening on a number of levels. Up-skilling the workforce is a long-term solution but it will take time and won’t help resolve the immediate challenges employers are facing. We need a dynamic, flexible workforce that recognises the nuances between self-employed contractors and agency workers on lower wages who require greater legal protection to prevent exploitation. International trade negotiations also need to focus on skills and services as much as products to allow UK firms greater and easier access to globally mobile talent.

“There also needs to be complete co-ordination between education institutes, employers, industry bodies and relevant Government bodies to drive a more sustainable and future-proof skills strategy for the country.”

Lauren Thomas, Economist at Glasdoor:

“Wage data indicates that while average nominal wages have grown at almost record levels this year, indicating that increased job hopping and salary rises have paid off for employees, real wage growth is at a decade-long low thanks to sky-high inflation. Flexible and hybrid work are both here to stay. Recent Glassdoor research found that employees happy with their hybrid work situation were less likely to apply for other jobs. Job seekers’ preferences for hybrid or flexible work mean that they will stick around, even through a cooling labour market. For the past two months, job vacancies have dropped as employers exercise caution amid rising energy costs and an uncertain economic outlook. However, despite this slowdown in attempted hiring, employees still hold most of the cards in the war for talent as the labour market remains tight. Face-to-face, relatively low-paid industries like healthcare and hospitality have particularly struggled to fill vacancies since pandemic lockdown restrictions were lifted. The labour shortage in healthcare shows no sign of improving anytime soon, with the NHS and social care facing drastic staffing crises. While hospitality is particularly vulnerable to energy price increases and cutbacks in consumer spending, job openings remain elevated as the supply of EU citizens has dried up and other industries offer higher pay and more flexibility.”

Louise Skittrall, founder of Swindon-based Robinson Grace HR Consultancy:

“It’s still a candidate-led market, with passive job seekers only moving for the most enticing and stable of offers. We’ve had candidates at the offer stage asking for probation periods to be removed from offers, and bonuses guaranteed for the first year. People are also negotiating hard on the hybrid working split of days working from home. So, whilst there is movement in the market, with people still taking up new opportunities, they are looking for more certainty and less risk. As a result, start-ups and sectors more reliant on disposable income such as hospitality are really struggling to recruit.”

Ryan Venner, Managing Director at Calne-based recruiter, Premier Jobs UK:

“Despite the dark clouds of uncertainty that are blanketing the economy, employers are continuing to push ahead with recruitment with a view to achieving their planned 2023 goals. Due to a shortage of available experienced talent, candidates still have the upper hand currently, a trend that has been present for several years now. As a result, businesses are still seeking advice on how to remain attractive before they launch a job ad, as it’s about more than just pay these days, but flexibility, too. We’re finding businesses that are embracing new talent by supporting trainees are making great headway. There remains a particularly strong pipeline of individuals looking to enter the financial services industry.”





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.