Midway through the first quarter of the year the number of active job postings is settling at around 1.8 million, according to the latest Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and Lightcast Labour Market Tracker. This represents a robust position – but weaker than the trend we have seen over the past three years.

There were more than 1.8m active job postings in the UK, with more than 810,000 new job postings, in February 2024. Continued labour shortages driven by a smaller active workforce, skills shortages in sectors like engineering and fast changes in consumer markets are key drivers of this. The 1.8m active job postings – around the number of people who live in Northern Ireland – is a remarkable position for a time where the economy has been in recession.

“It’s clear that the jobs market has slowed with the economy over the past year, and today’s figures reflect that,” said REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry. “But the level of hiring activity is more resilient than would be expected at a time like this, driven by the UK’s tight labour supply, and forward-looking indicators of rising business confidence.

“For companies, this is a timely reminder that hiring is likely to remain challenging, especially as growth picks up. A strong partnership with professional recruiters, using the principles in the REC’s new Aim Hire guide will be essential.

“Governments really need to focus on a workforce strategy that will open up growth and prosperity – yet too many politicians are ducking the issue,” Carberry adds. “Talking about boosting GDP per capita is all very well, but it requires reforms to skills policies, taxation, regulation and infrastructure that have been overlooked in this Parliament. We could unlock £39bn of growth annually just by taking this challenge on.”

Overall, when looking at the government region statistics the number of active job postings in Scotland grew by 1.2 per cent, whilst this is positive the rate is lower than the UK-wide figure. And six of the bottom ten areas with the lowest growth were in Scotland. This is similar to the previous month and suggests that private sector investment and growth should be a priority for Holyrood this spring.

Occupations with notable increases in adverts in February 2024 include Authors, Writers and Translators (+67.5 per cent), Window Cleaners (+38.1 per cent), and Clothing, Fashion and Accessories Designers (+28.2 per cent).

There was also growing demand for Driving Instructors (+27.4 per cent), Gardeners and Landscape Gardeners (+26.0 per cent) and Data Entry Administrators (+24.9 per cent).

Delivery Drivers and Couriers (-21.6 per cent), Optometrists (23.5 per cent) and Prison Service Officers (Below Principal Officer) (39.6 per cent) all showed the largest decline in roles from January 2024 to February 2024.

Stay up to date

Keep me up to date to receive all the latest news and updates.