From education to employment

Public sector job growth bucks trend: +26% increase in new vacancies

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Public sector job growth continues to rise in the UK – bucking the trend of some of the nation’s leading industries – reporting a 12%+ growth in white-collar roles in Q1 (compared to Q4 2022).

The findings come from leading recruiter Robert Walters, who’s job data reveals that 10,343 new white-collar roles were advertised in Q1 – a +26% increase on Q1 2022, and a +28% increase on 2021.

March 2023 was a record month for the public sector – with new job roles increasing by a staggering +98%, when compared to the same period last year.

According to the findings, if professional job growth within the public sector continues at this pace then white collar roles within the sector would have increased by +29% by the end of 2023.

Habiba Khatoon, Director at specialist recruitment firm Robert Walters comments:

“The increase in public sector jobs has been driven by a range of factors, including increased demand for services across the board including healthcare, education, and housing.

“The governments investment into infrastructure projects and initiatives is clearly paying dividends in the form of job creation, and the significant spike in demand for tech & digital skillsets highlights where the sector would like to move toward.”

Tech leading the way: skills in demand

By job function, IT Management has become the leading area being recruited for across the public sector – with vacancies up +113% on the 2022 monthly average.

As a result this now makes up almost a tenth (7%) of all the professional vacancies that were advertised by public sector organisations in Q1 – up from 4.15% last year.

Communications roles are the second largest area that is recruited for by the public sector – however within this function volumes are down 5% in terms of the monthly average, signaling that the majority of hiring for this area may have been done at the peak of the pandemic.  

Skills in Demand – Analysis of Public Sector Job Adverts (professional roles)
 % change in job vacancies Q1 2023 vs Q1 2022% of job adverts asking for skillset
IT Development & Engineering8.25%4.44%
HR Recruitment-6.64%4.01%
IT Management113.13%6.83%
Digital Marketing2.61%3.05%
Management Accounting5.28%3.42%

Regions Pick-Up Pace

Broken down by region, the Robert Walters data reports that whilst London continues to be the largest area by way of job advertisements (33%) – this has dropped slightly by -1% compared to last year.

Interestingly Wales is the fastest growing region, up +57%, but equally only has a small share of the overall total vacancies (4%).

Perhaps the bigger story here is in the North, which continues to increase in activity and share – with professional vacancies up +40%, meaning it now accounts for 25% of all vacancies in the UK (up from 23%).

The Midlands is showing a similar story, with public sector white-collar roles up by +22% and now accounting for 14% of all vacancies in the region.

Habiba adds: “Regions outside of London continue to be an attractive location for public sector organisations to relocate or create satellite hubs – not only to tap into senior talent that did in fact move out of larger cities such as London post-pandemic, but to tap into the wealth of young emerging talent and graduates that are opting to stay in cities such as Birmingham or Manchester.

“In fact, with Birmingham boasting one of the youngest working populations in the UK, being home to three leading universities, and growing its emerging tech & finance hub are all very attractive attributes for firms looking save money on high office rent but not sacrifice on the quality of talent.”

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