Current trends in the UK professional job market

Current trends in the UK professional job market

Fluctuations in the Financial Services jobs market has always been an indication as to what will happen in Industry and Commerce, which tends to follow – approximately three to six months later - the highs and lows of the City.

Greater confidence in financial services is always a good indicator of wider job market optimism and the recent data published in the CBI/PWC Financial Services survey showed that business optimism is rising at its fastest since the survey began in 1989, as profitability rose for a fifth consecutive quarter.

The survey showed that employment grew at its quickest pace since 2007 and expected employment growth for the first quarter of 2014 was also at its strongest since 1989. It is estimated that financial services jobs increased by 10,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013 and further rise of 15,000 is expected Q1 of 2014. By the end of Q2 this year, employee numbers in the financial services sector will be just 56,000 lower than the 2008 peak.

With the financial services sector leading the way in the last quarter of 2013, a notable pick-up in business is now being seen among both industrial and commercial companies - a trend that is expected to continue during 2014 with capital spending predicted to increase over the next 12 months.

According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), there will be a 10.2 per cent rise in graduate vacancies in 2014, which represents a significant increase on the 4.3 per cent recorded last year, with banking and financial services making up 16 per cent of the expected growth in vacancies from 2013 to 2014. (Other key sectors are IT/Telecoms at 40 percent, the public sector at 20 per cent and energy 18 per cent.) In terms of actual numbers of graduate vacancies available, accountancy and professional services, the public sector, retail and investment banking and fund management make up the largest recruiting sectors.

As well as a boost in graduate vacancies, there is expected to be an overall rise in the number of jobs being advertised across the UK in the months ahead, driven by London and the finance sector in particular.

Leslie Walters at Arlington Resource Management says, “As the recovery continues and employer optimism improves, the jobs market is well positioned for growth in 2014 and beyond. The capital spending intentions of the survey respondents over the next 12 months are positive across all categories for the first time since the financial crisis, and business volumes and profitability are expected to increase again next quarter.  The good news for employees, but not for employers, is that skill shortages now appears to be the key concern for the year ahead.”

Key findings of the CBI/PWC survey:

  • 69% of financial services firms said they felt more optimistic about the overall business situation
  • Looking ahead to the next quarter 52% of companies expect business volumes to increase
  • 47% of financial services firms said that they had increased employment, the highest since March 2007
  • Firms expect employment to rise even more strongly next quarter (+49%), which is the strongest expectations balance since 1989.
  • Concern about the availability of professional staff rose as a constraint, cited by 31%

The Financial Services Survey is conducted on a quarterly basis and covers ten sectors of UK financial services. The full survey results are available on subscription. For further information email