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UK now has ‘record 3.5 million job ads’ ahead of Christmas peak demand

The number of job vacancies in the UK has hit a new record 3.5 million ahead of the Christmas peak according to a closely-watched report – double the number seen in the summer.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said there was a particular rise in demand last week for prison officers, scaffolders, dentists and vets as the UK’s labour shortage shows no sign of easing.

While the latest official data shows a level of 1.3 million vacancies in October, the REC said that the number of active job adverts had risen from almost 1.7 million in the summer.

It reported that with around 210,000 new jobs posted in the last week alone, there were currently 3.51 million roles being advertised.

Here is a list of six occupations where, according to the REC job advert data, workers were in most demand last week:

• Nurses – 155,520

• Programmers and software development professionals – 124,346

• Care workers and home carers – 100,916

• Primary and nursery education teaching professionals – 68,824

• Sales and retail assistants – 64,883

• Chefs – 59,743

The labour crunch has been blamed on a number of factors, with recruitment hampered by a combination of COVID pandemic-related shortfalls and post-Brexit limits covering immigration.

They have led to well documented shortages of people in key roles such as butchery – threatening Christmas turkey production, for example.

The dearth of HGV drivers has been a major force behind supply chain disruption.

Another reason why many sectors have struggled to hire is that UK employment has held up well thanks to the furlough scheme, with the jobless rate standing at just 4.3%.

The lack of labour has contributed to a leap in wage demands.

The REC’s chief executive, Neil Carberry, said: “The growth in job adverts shows no signs of slowing as we reach the Christmas peak.

“We’ll have to wait and see how this week’s news on the Omicron variant affects the market, with hospitality the sector most likely to bear the brunt of any slowdown in consumer confidence.”

He added: “This is very much a candidate’s market now. Firms need to think about how they will attract staff facing greater competition than ever before.”

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