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Is drop in applicants-to-job ratio good news

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Research analysing the behaviour of 4.4 million jobseekers and 5,000 recruiters each month, reveals that competition for jobs has reached an average of 17 applications per job, which is a fall on the quarter but is a five percent increase. The Easter break and the Diamond Jubilee’s extended bank holiday reduced the number of days on which employers could post new jobs, which caused a six percent decrease in jobs available compared to the first quarter of 2012. However, compared with the same period, the picture looks rosier with an increase in vacant jobs of six percent. Despite the rise in the number of jobs available comparing year-on-year, competition has continued to increase. In some regions, the rise has been stark: London, which recorded a fall in jobs year-on-year, has seen applications per jobs rise to 23. The Totaljobs Barometer provides one of the most comprehensive representations of supply and demand in the UK job market – importantly reporting three months ahead of official ONS statistics for which it stands up as a proven forecast. Today’s figures show how UK recruitment has fared in the first quarter of 2012.

John Salt, director, totaljobs.com says: “When you look over the year the situation looks much improved with more jobs around for people to apply for. However, the quarterly fall in vacancies corresponds to increased economic pressures – a double dip recession and continued Eurozone uncertainty, which is making it tough for businesses to take the risk of investing in new staff. At the same time, as unemployment has fallen, confidence has returned amongst in-work jobseekers who, along with those who have remained unemployed, are going for every opportunity out there, which has boosted competition.”

The Totaljobs Barometer also outlines recruiter and jobseeker activity across 33 sectors. Looking towards the long-term, sectors outlined by the Government as growth areas are starting to recruit, indicating the start of a turn in fortunes, which will help pull the UK out of the downturn. Sectors that saw growth in jobs posted in Q2 2012 compared to the same period in 2011 were oil, gas and alternative energy (+41 percent), engineering and manufacturing (+22 percent) as well as IT and internet ( plus nine percent). Charities, which will be relied upon to provide more public services, are also recruiting, with the sector increasing the number of jobs it is advertising by 29 percent, year-on-year. However, there is cause for concern for graduates, with entry-level positions decreasing by six percent over the quarter compared to the first three months of the year, indicating issues for those leaving university this month.

John Salt continues: “It’s great to see some of the key industries outlined by the coalition as growth markets starting to take on more people, indicating some light at the end of the tunnel. However, we must look at future needs of UK businesses. For me, the most alarming thing about these numbers is that entry-level positions are decreasing. Where are we going to find the next generation of talent to lead UK organisations if we are not investing in them today?” Although the number of jobs available rose year-on-year, in a reversal of recent fortunes, it was London that was amongst those areas to experience a fall in the number of jobs – which fell by almost two percent. It was joined by Wales, in which the number of vacancies fell by One percent. In both regions, as a result, competition rose: in London to 23 from 22; and in Wales to 20 from 17.

By contrast, some of those areas that have historically struggled to create jobs recently as a result of public spending cuts have seen some growth. Scotland saw a rise in available posts of 21 percent year-on-year, or three percent on the quarter. Similarly, the North East and North West both recorded year-on-year rises in jobs posted of 11 percent and 16 percent respectively. The number of jobs posted in the North West has also helped ease competition per job, which on average fell by three percent to 20 applications per post.

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