As the hiring frenzy continues, the number of job adverts in the UK surge to 1.9 million despite labour shortages.

According to new research published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), 1.9 million job adverts were active in the week of 13th-19th September.

In this same weekly period, around a quarter of a million new vacancies arose (223,000) which is the second highest weekly figure on record.

Positively, this growth was seen across the entire country with every upper tier local authority in the UK seeing a rise in active job postings last week. However, Scotland was the regional area which saw the largest increase in job postings.

Previous data published by the REC in August revealed there were 1.66 million active job adverts in the UK, suggesting that the demand for labour continues to climb whilst staff shortages persist.

Due to the return to school in September, roles linked to education were in high demand including school secretaries (+17.6 per cent), school midday and crossing patrol occupations (+16.4 per cent), educational support assistants (+9.8 per cent) and caretakers (+9.6 per cent).

Conversely, despite enjoying initial demand in previous weeks, positions such as dispensing opticians (-11.4 per cent), photographers, audio-visual and broadcasting equipment operators (-9.2 per cent), and pharmacy and other dispensing assistants (-7.2 per cent) saw the steepest weekly declines in active job adverts.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, argued that job recovery could now be stunted by a lack of workers across sectors:

Job postings are rising in every area of the UK. That’s good news, and we are seeing more employees starting new positions than ever – but demand from employers is even higher still.

There is a real chance now that shortages of available workers will slow the recovery.

 Labour shortages and the related recruitment difficulties put constraints on the economy, restricting output growth and innovation, so it’s vital we solve them quickly.

Government departments must come together with industry experts to solve the shortage crisis with pragmatic and practical steps.

But politicians and businesses must also do their part individually – government by addressing training at lower skill levels and allowing more flexibility in the immigration system; and companies by improving workforce planning and focusing on improved conditions and facilities as ways to attract and retain staff, not just pay.

Matt Mee, Director of Workforce Intelligence at Emsi Burning Glass, also added that employers will have to work harder to attract staff:

 Although this appears to be driven by a variety of factors, what it suggests is that employers are going to have to work harder to fill their vacancies if they are to survive and thrive.

This might mean a number of things, including raising the salaries they are offering; charting clearer and better career progressions for employees; looking for talent pools in other areas; and seeking to create better and more flexible working conditions to attract new workers.

*This research has been produced by the REC in partnership with Emsi in the Jobs Recovery Tracker. Data was harvested between 6 September and 19 September 2021.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.