Retailers predict autumn hiring trouble

An early hiring spike has given rise to fears of a competitive autumn labour market

A nationwide trend for declining job vacancies has been bucked by the retail and warehousing sectors, but experts predict staffing difficulties later this year.

UK vacancies fell to 1.04 million in August, down for the second consecutive month, and down 0.78% on July, according to a snapshot of all online job adverts in the UK by ad search engine Adzuna.

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But while two thirds of sectors are tightening their hiring, one third are actively bringing more staff on board.

The retail and logistics/warehousing sectors were up 4.7% and 3.6% respectively.

This jump in hiring – usually for seasonal workers ahead of Christmas – has come earlier than expected this year, suggesting that supermarkets and retailers anticipate difficulties finding staff later in the year.

“It’s evident that hiring for critical roles remains competitive,” said Andrew Hunter, co-founder at Adzuna.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “There is an ongoing mismatch between unfilled vacancies, and jobseekers with the right skills to meet those needs.

“Recruiters and HR professionals must keep innovating for new ways to attract talent and differentiate themselves from the competition.”

This mismatch has resulted in difficulty for recruiters.

In August, the average time to fill a role was 36 days, the longest wait in 2023 since January’s high of 36.6.

Despite these difficulties, half (50%) of employers do not post salaries on their job adverts, a proven method of encouraging applications.

Deciding whether to post an advert with a salary could be a “conundrum” for employers, according to Paul Holcroft, managing director at HR consultancy Croner.

He told HR magazine: “Including job salary information could allow applicants to be more informed, so not listing it could discourage some applicants. This is clearly the opposite of what companies are trying to achieve. 

“But employers do need to ensure that they are advertising appropriate pay for new hires in line with that of existing staff. 

“Not doing so could cause issues, including equal pay disputes. And in a cost of living crisis, lower-paid roles may not receive as many applications as those advertising higher rates of pay.”