Government Hiring Spree Props up the Jobs Market

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One of the UK's largest recruiters reports a sizeable increase in job vacancies being advertised by the government.

Robert Walters reports a 51% increase in job creation for professional roles in the Public Sector, which it attributes in part to changing government priorities.

"If job vacancies continue at the pace that they have, then job volume for professional roles within the public sector will be +35% up on 2022 – making this the only industry segment to see an increase in white-collar / head-office roles this year," reads a new report from Robert Walters.

The strong government hiring comes amidst elevated UK employment and wage levels, which economists say contributes to the UK's stubborn inflationary trends.

Robert Walters has analysed job vacancies across professional services roles such as finance, HR, legal, technology, marketing, and business support & administration. Their latest findings show strong demand for technology-based roles with a +138% increase in demand registered for Tech Management roles.

"It really is no surprise to see the demand for public sector professionals remain so high in 2023 – in particular due to changing government priorities, evolving legislation, demographic changes putting additional pressure on the system, and the need for specialized skills to keep up with technological advancements," says Habiba Khatoon, Director at Robert Walters.

According to Khatoon, the recently announced public sector pay increases have given the public sector a "well-needed positive PR".

Above: The official ONS measure of job vacancies shows a fall from historically elevated levels.

"With a better reputation around job security, generous leave entitlement, work-life balance, and diverse career opportunities – when compared to the private sector – the tide may be turning on where the most in-demand talent may choose to lay their hat," says Khatoon.

According to the Robert Walters report, there has been an explosion in hiring for Tech Management roles – with volumes up +138% on last year, accounting for 8% of all new professional job vacancies in the public sector in the last quarter.

This is in stark contrast to all other sectors – where across the UK, Tech Management roles are down -59%.

"Arguably the public sector was slightly behind the curve on digital transformation post-pandemic. So whilst we saw a bulk of tech hiring take place within the private sector in the 12 months following lockdown measure being lifted, this scale of hiring only seems to be taking place now," says Khatoon.

Other roles in demand across the public sector include Management Accounting and Digital Marketing – which have increased by +18% and +11% respectively, in the past year.

By region, London remains the largest in terms of vacancies accounting for 32% of all advertised roles, however, it is The North (+42%), South (+34%), and The Midlands (+26%) that have seen notable growth.

London has seen a +30% growth in public sector professional vacancies in the past year.

James Chaplin, CEO of Vacancysoft, a provider of labour market data and analytics, says despite the significant fall in activity in 2023 so far, it is worth noting that last year vacancies hit all-time record levels.

The Bank of England will raise interest rates again on Thursday as it battles inflation, hoping the rises will slow the economy and create some 'slack' in the jobs market that can bring wage pressures down.

Economists say falling wage pressures can be expected to have a deflationary effect.

Chaplin says current market trends are broadly on a par with 2019, the last regular business year before the pandemic, which was, to all intents and purposes, a normal year.

"Perhaps with that, we are seeing the market therefore normalising. A big part of that will be whether interest rates continue to rise, equally given inflation was below forecast in the latest results, it could be we are finally turning the corner here too," he says.