Research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has found professional vacancies in the North grew faster than in the rest of England and Wales (E&W) in 2022, with over 81,500 new jobs registered, representing a 16 per cent year-on-year increase. However, year-to-date vacancies in 2023 have not kept up with last year’s numbers.

The data, provided by business intelligence specialist VacancySoft, revealed that the North published more than 18,500 new jobs in Q1 2023, while the rest of E&W had over 90,000 postings, both lower than the same timeframe in 2022. Despite this, forecasts show that the North’s vacancies could reach over 74,300 jobs by the end of 2023, albeit with an 8.8 per cent drop compared to 2022. The rest of E&W is expected to see a 19.64 per cent decrease in vacancies by the end of the year, indicating that the UK economy faces more challenging times ahead.

The North’s professional vacancies peaked during Q3 2022, recording nearly 22,000 new job postings. The most substantial quarter-on-quarter drop occurred between Q3 and Q4 2022, with the North and the rest of E&W experiencing significant decreases in hiring volumes. August 2022 was the most productive month of the entire 2021-2023 period, with over 7,700 jobs posted in the North.

Real Estate & Construction was the top sector for hiring in the region last year, with over 12,700 new jobs being published (up 16.4 per cent year on year). This trend is likely due to the rising importance of the green economy in the UK, as evidenced by PwC’s ‘Green Jobs Barometer’, which revealed a 104 per cent increase in green jobs across the North compared to 2021. Banking was the fastest growing sector in the North, with over 8,800 jobs posted, a year-on-year rise of 43.1 per cent, followed by Industrials/Engineering, which posted a 39.5 per cent increase. Despite the Technology sector ranking second, forecasts suggest a significant yearly drop of 37.22 per cent is approaching by the end of 2023, potentially driven by an increase in global IT and tech layoffs. Those working in the UK’s tech sector may also face increased job insecurity in 2023 as well as a lack of new opportunities.

“The labour market in the North thrived in 2022 and, although – like almost every other region in the UK – there does appear to be signs of a slowdown, the market is still producing new job roles, with many sectors driving much of this growth,” said Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo. “We will likely see some drop-off in the creation of vacancies when compared to the relative boom period in 2022, however much of this will be led by layoffs and cost-cutting in the technology sector, which we’ve already seen early signs of.

“Over the coming months we can expect to see continued signs of growth within the real estate and construction and banking markets, particularly within the North East and North West, which should help to counterbalance inflationary and cost-of-living led drop-offs in the Yorkshire & Humber region, particularly within retail,” she added. “On the whole, despite major challenges for the UK economy, the North is still faring relatively well and is outperforming the rest of England and Wales, and it will be interesting to see how employers adapt to changing macroeconomic pressures in the coming months.”

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