Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Jobseekers face fewer options in 2016 as new openings fall

Jobseekers are facing fewer options in 2016, as falling vacancies and rising competition impact upon work prospects, according to the latest UK Job Market Report from

  • January sees number of advertised vacancies fall 7.3% to 1,079,711, declining for the second consecutive month as jobseekers find themselves with fewer choices
  • ‘New year, new job’ phenomenon fails to take off, as employer hiring drops off amid bosses’ successful long term focus on retaining and upskilling existing employees
  • Competition for jobs hots up, rising to 0.61 applicants per vacancy from 0.54 in December, as Northern cities Sunderland and Hull see toughest competition
  • Manufacturing, Finance, Energy, Media and Retail sectors see cuts in January, resulting in thousands of job losses across the UK’s core industries
  • Advertised salaries, meanwhile, show a glimmer of hope, rising 0.8% month-on-month to reach £33,593 in January, with Northern Ireland and Wales leading the recovery
  • French the top foreign language for new hires in the UK jobs market despite Brexit fears, with 8,401 current vacancies looking for French linguistic skills

Jobseekers are facing fewer options in 2016, as falling vacancies and rising competition impact upon work prospects, according to the latest UK Job Market Report from

January saw a total of 1,079,711 job vacancies advertised in the UK, down 7.3% from 1,164,502 in December – in the largest monthly drop since 2012. Advertised job vacancies have now fallen 13.7% since November, when 165,000 more jobs were on the market (1,244,772). A long-term focus on upskilling existing employees and prioritising retention means companies can now sidestep the search for fresh talent, filling positions in-house rather than looking elsewhere.

For jobseekers, this means fewer choices and less flexibility. Job competition has intensified in January, rising to 0.61 applicants per vacancy, up 13% since 0.54 in December.

At the same time, widespread job losses across a range of UK sectors mean several industry key players are no longer in a position to take on new hires. Energy giant BP cut 7,000 jobs earlier this month, alongside the loss of over 2,500 manufacturing roles by Tata and Bombardier. Lloyds and Virgin Media similarly saw large job losses of 1,755 and 900 employees respectively.

Table 1:


December 2015

January 2016



Annual change from January 2015

UK Vacancies





Jobseekers per Vacancy





Av. Advertised UK Salary






Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, comments: “January’s jobs market has failed to take flight. The normal rhythm of hiring hasn’t happened – vacancy levels are down and job competition is getting tougher. Fewer options for those looking for new jobs is putting pressure on career plans. Hiring habits are changing in a sign of potential instability and employers are retaining their best workers for longer.

“A potential Brexit brings new unknowns into the jobs market. Politicians are at risk of fuelling uncertainty fears – and only increasing doubts. By doing so they’re risking a weaker jobs market. It’s a dangerous game to play – thousands of employers and employees are already on edge. This lack of consensus is causing understandable concern for many companies. Business expansions and hiring sprees are being put on hold as a result. EU languages are still in high demand throughout the UK and whichever road the referendum takes us down, this is sure to remain so.”

Advertised salaries meanwhile reached £33,593 in January, climbing 0.8% monthly – only the third monthly rise in eleven months. This was up from £33,332 in December and suggests the jobs market could bounce back in the coming months.

Doug Monro, explains “January’s not entirely a disheartening picture – advertised salaries are one bright spot. After a long period of monthly decreases this provides a glimmer of hope that prospects for jobseekers will improve. As we see a stabilisation over the upcoming months, vacancies will hopefully begin to follow the path of salaries and begin to pick-up.”

Manufacturing and Retail sectors caught up in vacancy falls

Alongside a natural January dip in available travel jobs and part-time work, both the Retail and Manufacturing sectors have seen large vacancy falls in the wake of job losses in January. Current vacancies in the Manufacturing sector stand at 14,022 – down 9% from 15,466 roles last month. Similarly, the Retail sector saw vacant positions fall 13% to 32,143, from 36,881 in December.

Table 2: Monthly vacancy falls by sector

Job Sector

 Current vacancies


 % Monthly Change

Travel Jobs



Part-time Jobs



Admin Jobs



Retail Jobs



Manufacturing Jobs



Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, comments: “A new year typically brings about fewer part-time positions as many companies retain seasonal employees or return to their regular staff levels. For the travel sector it’s been a particularly bad month for vacancy numbers. And there are fewer admin, retail and manufacturing roles available – making it much more difficult for jobseekers, and those laid off. Over the next couple of months, these industries look set to bounce back. Rising advertised salaries will play an important role and as the shock of large closures wears off, it’s likely that the number of vacancies will climb.”

Fluent French furthers candidate’s chances in UK jobs market

Jobseekers with language skills are managing to buck the downward vacancy trend however – as demand for multilingual workers goes from strength-to-strength.

There are currently over 35,000 job vacancies looking for applicants with linguistic skills and with an average advertised salary of £36,026 for bilingual positions across the UK, it’s a lucrative skill to have.

French is the most popular language with employers, with 8,401 available positions currently asking for proficiency. This is closely followed by German (7,820 vacancies), Spanish (4,267) and Italian (3,856).

Table 3: Foreign language demand by job sector

Job Sector

No. of vacancies asking for a foreign language







Accounting & Finance


Customer services


The IT sector is keenest to employ linguistically trained employees, with 3,581 advertised positions in the sector currently asking for language skills, alongside teaching, sales, finance and healthcare jobs – all of which have various openings for candidates speaking a second language.

Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, comments: “Languages have always been vital to the international ambitions of companies. But now they’re becoming even more lucrative to have as a jobseeker. A French speaker, or German speaker in a company can make all the difference and open up new business channels and deals. In the interconnected world, learning a second language is a fantastic way to differentiate yourself from other applicants and claim a higher salary. It’s hard work to learn a foreign tongue, but employers are willing to pay more for it – so it’s a skill worth pursuing. For industries such as IT, which is growing its international reach, and for healthcare, which is dealing with more diverse patients than ever, having another language may soon become a necessity.”

Wales and Northern Ireland witness highest monthly salary increases

Advertised salaries rose 0.8% month-on-month in January, increasing for the third consecutive month, reversing an eight month period of decreasing advertised pay.

Wales and Northern Ireland saw the largest monthly rises. Wales’ average advertised salary rose 1.4% to stand at £29,682, up from £29,286 the previous month. Similarly, Northern Ireland saw advertised salaries increase 2.2% to reach £29,745, from £29,092 in December. Both regions proved largely exempt to annual falls in average advertised salaries – witnessing yearly drops of 0.9% and 0.1% respectively, proving more resilient to the downward trend.

Despite having the largest advertised salary of all regions at £40,192 London also saw the second largest annual fall of 4.3%, just behind Scotland, which saw a 5.2% fall to £31,536. North East England slipped to third place, with a 3.7% decrease in average advertised salary.

Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, concludes: “Advertised salaries appear to be coming out of a downward spiral. It’s especially encouraging to see a pick-up in the UK average. Wales and Northern Ireland are starting the year in a better position than the rest and have both seen strong salary growth since December. These are much awaited improvements – both these areas suffered a long hangover from the recession, but their local jobs markets are now proving more resilient.

“Although seeing a large annual fall, London maintains a huge advantage. The capital combines a versatile collection of industries, more so than other regions. For instance, the prevalent position of the manufacturing sector within the North East labour market always increases the risk of job losses. When companies are in difficulty, it’s typically the production side jobs outside of London which take the hit. In another clear example, Scotland has seen the most severe annual salary slides, as the bottom has fallen out of its beleaguered oil & gas industry over the last twelve months.”

Table 4: UK regions by average advertised salary


Average Salary

Monthly Salary Change

Annual Salary Change









North East England




UK Average




South West England




Eastern England




North West England




East Midlands




Yorkshire and The Humber




West Midlands




South East England








Northern Ireland