London reports lowest job vacancies with highest number of unemployed


The ONS’s most recently published labour market figures show that vacancy numbers have reached another record high with the number of payroll employees up by 207,000 having surpassed pre-pandemic levels. This is 122,000 higher than levels seen before the pandemic hit in February.

The UK’s employment rate increased by 0.5 percentage points last quarter to 75.3%, while the unemployment rate was down 0.4 percentage points to 4.5%.

The ONS stated that the number of job vacancies increased by 318,000, with all industry sectors above or equal to the levels seen between January to March last year, before the first lockdown.

Record vacancies may not be good news

According to analysis of job listings by Adzuna, people looking for work may not be in the right areas to fill them, with different regions facing different employment challenges. London is by far the worst place for workers to be in if looking for employment, with more people looking for work than jobs advertised. The capital city had 13.4% of over 16 unemployed or furloughed which was the highest in the country. Vacancies were 104% of what they were pre-pandemic, but this was the smallest growth nationally.

The opposite is true in Northern Ireland, where vacancies grew 154%, the second steepest in the country, but there are comparatively fewer people looking for work.

This location phenomenon could result in continuing crisis for businesses battling to find staff as the economy grows.

Pay increases on the rise but not enough to secure candidates

Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 7.2% and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 6% among employees for the three months June to August 2021.

Darren Morgan, Director of Economic Statistics at the ONS commented: “The jobs market has continued to recover from the effects of the coronavirus. The latest earnings continue to show growth on the year, even after taking inflation into account. However, the figures are still being affected by special factors that make it hard to read underlying trends.”

Matthew Percival, Programme Director for Skills and Inclusion at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “Companies have found hiring difficult this autumn and the official data is beginning to tell the same story, with the number of people on payroll exceeding pre-COVID highs and record vacancies.

Responding to the ONS earnings and employment figures, Matt Weston, UK Managing Director of global recruitment firm Robert Half, said:

“We’re currently seeing demand above and beyond pre-pandemic levels, and despite the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ creating a tsunami of turnover, we are still experiencing a saturated market where the demand for skilled talent outstrips the supply. The competition is evident with the increase in median monthly pay showing the strength of candidates’ influence when agreeing terms with a new employer.”

Keltbray buys nmcn infrastructure business

Keltbray has agreed a deal to acquire a portfolio of infrastructure contracts and associated assets from nmcn which went into administration last week.

The latest move secures the futures of 117 former nmcn employees and Keltbray will take over existing contracts with immediate effect.

Some infrastructure contracts were not transferred as part of the deal leading to 19 redundancies

The acquired contracts will be managed within Keltbray’s existing infrastructure division reporting to Managing Director, Phill Price.

Keltbray CEO, Darren James said: “Keltbray are pleased with the ‘on strategy’ opportunities presented by the acquisition of these contracts, working with clients on some of the UK’s most important infrastructure projects.

“Today’s announcement accelerates our plans to build a resilient, growth-oriented business.  Equally important, we have also safeguarded 117 valuable jobs and livelihoods that could otherwise have been lost to our industry.

“The acquisition has required a very rapid, but collaborative approach, and Keltbray would like to thank all parties for their proactivity throughout.  I look forward to working with my new colleagues as we build a rewarding future together as one Keltbray.”

The Keltbray deal is the final sell-off of nmcn which went into administration last week.

Galliford Try bought the water business for £1m saving 900 jobs while Svella picked-up the telecoms, plant hire, transport and accommodation divisions saving 680 jobs.

Administrator Grant Thornton was unable to find a buyer for the building division leading to 80 redundancies.

Spokesperson for Grant Thornton, Rob Parker said: “We are very pleased to have secured this third sale which means that within less than a week of our appointment we have secured over 1600 jobs and helped to maintain continuity and minimise the impact for the greater majority of nmcn’s customers, many of which were involved in important infrastructure projects across the UK. It was important to ensure that transactions were completed as quickly as possible.

“Sadly it was not possible to transfer all of the Infrastructure contracts and therefore regrettably we have today announced 19 redundancies.

“Our focus as administrators now turns to assisting the purchasers of the various parts of nmcn with post completion matters and dealing with the other assets of the company.  We will be providing further updates in due course.

“The Joint Administrators would like to thank the efforts of Lee Marks, Alan Foster and the nmcn and Grant Thornton teams for their hard work in achieving these sales.”