In this piece, @EMSI_UK take a look at how employer demand for occupations has changed over the last 12 months, with particular focus on the nations and regions of the UK.

We'll also take a brief look at some of the latest furlough data, to give a bit more context to what is happening in the labour market.

In the heat map below, we have used Emsi's Job Posting Analytics to look at the change in employer demand, measured by unique online job postings, across the country between February 2020 and February 2021, for the nine 1-digit Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) occupations. There are a number of interesting points highlighted by the data:

  • There has been a decline in employer demand across almost all regions and across almost every 1-digit SOC occupation over the past 12 months.
  • From the regional perspective, the biggest decline in employer demand has been in London, which has seen a fall of 22% across all occupation categories.
  • The two areas which have seen the biggest growth in demand are Wales, which has seen positive change across all but one occupation (Sales and Customer Service), and which has had overall growth of 26%, and Northern Ireland, which has seen overall demand rise by 35.6% including a doubling for Professional occupations.
  • From the occupation perspective, the most dramatic falls in demand have been in Sales and Customer Service (45.1% decline); Administrative and Secretarial (34.6%); and Elementary Occupations (22.0%). What is most noticeable about this, is that two of these three occupation classifications are at the lower end of the skills spectrum (Sales and Customer Service, and Elementary Occupations), whilst the third is in the medium skill range (Administrative and Secretarial).

(Note: You can see the percentage changes by placing your cursor over a rectangle):

 As well as our job postings data showing big declines in demand for lower skilled jobs, we can also look at the latest furlough data to give us another indicator that some of the most significant labour market challenges over the coming year(s) are likely to be at the lower skills level.

As a reminder, the furlough scheme has been running since March 2020, with the numbers peaking on 1st May at 8.86 million (29% of eligible employments), then falling month on month to a low of 2.4 million in late October, before rising again from November during the second and third Lockdowns. As at 31st January, the total number of people on furlough was 4.7 million (15.6% of eligible employments).

If we look at the numbers in terms of sectors, we can see that not only are there significant differences between industries in terms of how much of their workforce is on furlough, but most of the high furlough sectors tend to be those which to employ a greater proportion of people at the lower end of the skills spectrum. For instance, Accommodation and food services; Other service activities; and Wholesale and retail, which generally employ a greater share of people with low skills than other industries, had 56%, 41% and 21% of their workforce furloughed respectively. And whilst there are some industries with a greater share of high skilled workers that also have large numbers of their workforce furloughed (for example, Arts, entertainment and recreation (55%); and Real estate (15%)), it is clear that furlough has tended to be in the lower skill sectors.

Although we obviously cannot foresee how things will pan out, it is likely that at least some who are now on furlough may well find themselves unemployed when the scheme eventually ends. This is likely to present big challenges in the years ahead, and colleges will need to be at the forefront of retraining people with the right skills to enable them to re-enter the workforce.

If you would like to find out more about understanding changes in employer demand in your area, contact Emsi.

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