THE latest ‘ Job Report’ with Ulster Bank reveals that jobseeker activity is on the increase despite ongoing wider business challenges and a slowing of job growth.

The headline data for Q3 indicates that the jobs market is slowing after 14 consecutive months of record-breaking highs across a variety of sectors.

The Jobs Report is a leading indicator of how employers are adapting to the economic environment and gives important insight into recruitment trends as well as the types of roles jobseekers are searching for online.

The report, which acts a barometer for the local jobs market, shows that jobs fell back by 5% QoQ in Q3 reflecting ongoing concerns over Brexit and the impact of the global economic slowdown on business planning and investment. Skills shortages also remain a key concern for businesses here.

Despite the change of gear, job hunters have never been more active.

The latest data indicates that applications on increased by 12% YoY, with employers in construction, accountancy and engineering all benefiting from candidates keen to change roles.

Sam McIlveen, General Manager of commented on the latest report:

“Recruitment trends alongside our data give us insight into wider business challenges. The fact that jobs have eased back is no surprise given the ongoing economic uncertainty.

“However, our latest job report must be viewed in context. We are coming off the back of record job highs with 14 consecutive quarters of growth so in many ways the local jobs market has never been stronger.

“Interestingly, job applications have increased by 12% on our site, which signals just how active and engaged Northern Ireland’s jobseekers are at the moment. It also reflects the churn of talent particularly in sectors such as construction, accountancy and engineering.

“The long-term challenge facing recruiters is how to attract, recruit and retain talented candidates. Building an appealing employer brand is key for companies to tackle skills shortages effectively.

“We have developed a unique approach with Universum through an Employer Branding Academy for local businesses.

“This gives companies valuable insight and the tools to create a positive brand that outperforms market competition and attracts the right people to roles.”

The Q3 report also shows two employment sectors – Customer Service, Call Centres & Languages and Beauty, Hair Care, Leisure and Sport – have listed their highest ever number of jobs. 

Companies such as Concentrix, Santander and Firstsource are all actively recruiting for customer service and contact centre professionals. 

The pace of hiring continues to ease but remains strong across most sectors. That is a key finding from the latest data. 

Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank’s Chief Economist adds further expertise to the latest report: “Advertised vacancies fell by just over 5% q/q in Q3, marking the second consecutive quarter of decline.

“Job listings have fallen by over 13% since Q1’s peak with advertised vacancies now at a seven-quarter low.

“Despite these recent declines, overall listings have risen by 12% and almost one-quarter over the last two and five years respectively.

“The pace of hiring at the start of the year was unsustainable and needed to slow.

“Double-digit wage inflation has been prevalent in some areas with acute skills shortages, most notably the IT sector.

“A slowdown has been gaining momentum with many of the employment categories reporting declines in the number of posts advertised. 

“Fifteen of the thirty-two employment categories posted quarterly declines in listings, with twelve reporting an increase and five categories recording no change.  

“But fourteen of the thirty-two employment categories still recorded growth in job listings relative to the same quarter last year.”

The top three categories account for almost 27% of all listings with the top seven categories accounting for over half (54%) of all job listings.

While the top 10 categories account for over two-thirds of all vacancies (68%).   

Richard also notes that declines are coming off a record high with the current number of vacancies remaining well above the levels seen in 2015-17. 

“The IT sector has seen the number of listings fall by 30% over the last three quarters.

“Nevertheless, the sector still accounts for more vacancies than any other sector. ”

After IT, Hospitality; Social, Charity & Not for Profit; Production, Manufacturing & Materials; and Accountancy and Finance sectors posted the largest number of job vacancies.

The latter was the only one of the top five largest employment categories to record a quarterly rise in job listings.

Meanwhile the Hospitality industry maintained the same level of strong demand for roles as in the previous quarter.

Production, Manufacturing & Materials saw a notable easing relative to Q2’s record high, but the number of posts advertised was still higher than any other quarter since Q1 2015.”   

Northern Ireland’s labour market is set to weaken in coming quarters given the marked deterioration in business conditions that has occurred in Q3. 

And, this survey points to a further softening in the labour market in the months ahead.

Richard says: “It looks increasingly likely that Q2 represented Northern Ireland’s labour market peak for jobs and trough for unemployment.

“Ongoing Brexit uncertainty has been translating into negative economic and business outcomes.

“Ultimately these outcomes impact on investment plans, staffing levels and the labour market in general.”

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