Unemployment is on the rise again, with the number of people out of work having increased to 15,000 in the first quarter of 2013, pushing the jobless rate up to 7.8 per cent.
While the figures are cause for concern, a recent report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation found that 60 per cent of employers plan to increase their workforce within the next three months. Among those hiring are some of the UK’s biggest employment sectors.
Healthcare / NHS
The public sector may be shrinking rapidly (with another 340,000 posts expected to be cut before the next election) but the NHS continues to be one of the biggest employers in the UK – and the world.
In fact, the NHS is said to be the fourth biggest employer on the planet, with 1.7 million workers (only beaten by McDonald’s, China’s army and the US Department of Defense).
More than four million people in the UK work in healthcare or social work related activities and with an ageing population and people living longer, the prospects in healthcare, whether NHS or private, look good.
According to Hays Recruitment, the lack of healthcare professionals poses a considerable threat to the world economy over the next 20 or so years. ‘Talent shortages are a global problem,’ Charles Logan, a director at Hays has said. ‘We operate in 32 countries and these skills are the ones that our clients globally say are in most demand. For anyone considering their career options in our globalised economy, these are the skills to focus on.’
While NHS staff jobs are dwindling, the body responsible for recruiting nurses has claimed that demand for agency nurses is so high that hospitals are having difficulty filling vacancies.
And with deregulation taking place across the NHS, allowing GPs to contract certain private providers of healthcare services, prospects for the sector look healthy for the long term.
More than three million people across the UK work in retail, making it the biggest employment category in the private sector. And despite the demise of big-name stores like Comet, Game and JJB Sports, the Centre for Retail Research has predicted growth of 0.3 per cent this year, rising to 1.2 to 1.4 per cent next year.
Many retailers are thriving in the current economic climate – and jobseekers need to identify who is hiring and who’s not. For example, Tesco and Sainsbury have slowed their expansion drastically, but Iceland posted record profits last year, Aldi are taking on thousands of new staff and H&M has marked the UK as a major growth target.
Another fast growing sub-sector of retail is upmarket shopping villages and such as those operated by McArthurGlen and Westfield – with a new mall from the latter back on track for Bradford after being put on ice.
It’s not uncommon to hear people complain that ‘we don’t make anything here anymore’, but while Britain’s manufacturing industry might be much smaller than it was 50 or 100 years ago – it’s still one of the biggest employment sectors.
Products as diverse as motor vehicles, food, clothing, aircraft, electronics, furniture and pharmaceuticals are made in the UK – providing more than 2.6 million jobs nationwide.
Manufacturing in the UK actually staffed up by around 70,000 positions during 2012 – and things are predicted to get better still.
A recent study by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) claimed that advances in production techniques, more employee legislation in other countries and increased transport costs will all combine to boost the UK manufacturing industry.
Following the closure of several car plants, one glimmer of hope is Nissan bringing production of its LEAF electric car to Sunderland, which is promised to create 2,000 new jobs (400 at its Sunderland plant and around 1,600 in the supply chain), and introduce new automotive skills to the UK.
More than two million people are employed in finance, accountancy and banking in the UK – and despite the economic troubles of recent years, the sector appears to be bouncing back.
In London, the availability of financial jobs in the first quarter of 2013 rose by 25 per cent – which coupled with a seven per cent drop in jobseekers entering the market, resulted in more jobs for fewer applicants in the capital.
Hakan Enver, operations manager for financial recruitment firm Morgan McKinley, said: ‘This picture of the hiring market is backed up by what employers are telling us; that there is more appetite to hire and the process is more fluid with fewer obstacles to bringing new talent on board.’
Meanwhile another recruitment company, Astbury Marsden, conducted a study which found that demand for staff was particularly high in compliance-related areas – as organisations get to grips with new regulations in the wake of the recent banking scandals.