New UK graduates are facing one of the toughest job markets in recent years, with annual graduate roles down -32.13% in September 2023 compared to the year before, according to the UK Job Market Report by job search engine Adzuna.
September saw 23,264 advertised job vacancies for graduates, falling -0.92% compared to August’s figures (23,480) and significantly lower than 34,277 a year ago. This is against a backdrop of falling vacancies across the board, with three-quarters of the sectors covered by Adzuna’s data reporting a slowdown in hiring, indicating potential cooling in the labour market.
Across all sectors, UK vacancies fell -1.57% in September to 1,022,833, in the third consecutive monthly decline. However, vacancies are down just -6.6% compared to the same time last year. There were 1.51 jobseekers per vacancy, compared to 1.47 in August and the highest it’s been since April 2023, leading to greater competition for roles.
In the face of increasing competition for roles, more employers are choosing not to advertise salaries. Only 47.8% of ads disclosed salary details last month – the lowest since Adzuna’s records began in April 2016. Advertised salaries dropped again to £37,093 in September, down -1.6% on August. Year-on-year, average wages are still +1.7% higher than they were in September 2022 (£36,473).
Teaching roles continue to dominate
Out of the 29 sectors in Adzuna’s job database, 23 saw drops in vacancies month-on-month in September with the energy sector and trade and construction seeing the biggest falls. Energy saw vacancies plummet -7% month-on-month, with Trade & Construction falling -6.32%.
Teaching vacancies, which have been falling consistently month-on-month since June, fell again in September, by a further -3.3%. However, the number of vacancies is still +43% higher than at the same time last year, and teaching remains the largest recruitment sector with almost 110,000 positions advertised last month.
Compared to last year, there were 30% more teaching roles on offer in the UK in September, and salaries were up +9.04% compared to 2022. This is the third highest annual salary increase, behind Social Work (+10.7%) and Property jobs (+9.25%).
To put the impact of teaching roles into perspective, September saw more vacancies for teachers than all of the Consultancy, Creative & Design, Domestic Help & Cleaning, Energy, Oil & Gas, HR & Recruitment, Legal, Maintenance, Manufacturing, Property and Travel sectors combined.
The resurging hospitality and travel sectors are actively recruiting with Travel seeing the greatest month-on-month increase in vacancies at +11.1% to 4,941 advertised vacancies in September. Travel vacancies are up +22% in the past six months. Hospitality vacancies were up +5.3% in September and +16% since Spring, with 81,855 advertised positions on offer.
The time to fill vacancies has continued to slow to 34.6 days, which is on par with the quickest times seen in March. This varies across sectors, however. Admin roles continue to be the fastest to fill (31 days) while Energy, Oil & Gas roles are the slowest (41 days).
Fluctuations in salaries
Almost two-thirds (65.5%) of sectors saw wages fall in September which is a significant increase from last month’s 50%. The biggest decline was seen in the Social Work sector where salaries were down -3.21% in August to £32,192.
The largest month-on-month increase was seen among Energy roles, where salaries increased +1.3% on August’s figures. Given the drop in vacancies across this sector, it indicates a possible shift towards higher-skilled roles in this sector. The same was seen in Manufacturing.
The sector has seen a significant yearly drop in vacancies (-29%), yet has experienced a +8.65% yearly increase in salaries. As well, despite the fall in advertised graduate roles, advertised salaries have increased by +1.48% compared to last year.
Legal jobs offered the highest average salaries in September – up +1% to £53,329 – overtaking IT salaries for the first time this year. The IT sector saw a -2.65% decrease in advertised salaries last month, marking a -9.15% decrease year-on-year. This is the largest annual drop of any sector. IT vacancies have also fallen by a third since 2022 suggesting high volatility in the sector. However, at £52,218, average salaries in IT are still significantly higher than the UK average of £37,093.
Salaries continue to fall slightly
Every region across the UK saw salary declines in September, although to varying degrees. The biggest declines were in the West Midlands, where salaries dropped by -2.05% month-on-month. The smallest declines were in South West England, where salaries were down -0.95%.
However, year-on-year salaries across all regions – except London – are up +3.9% on average.
When it comes to cities, Leeds continues to be number one with advertised salaries up +7.52% compared to September 2022. Bradford has leapfrogged Oxford, Belfast and Liverpool into second place, with an increase of +5.37%. In fact, last month’s runner-up Oxford has fallen into 6th place, due to Leicester joining the top five for the first time.
Cambridge saw the decline in its salaries slow down in August, but they ramped up again in September. In August, the declines sat at -1.41% but by September, they had risen to -2.45%. Birmingham also saw annual salaries fall for the first time this year, down -1.61%, compared to August when salaries increased +0.67%.
Top place to look for work
Cambridge continues to be one of the best cities to find a job, with 0.26 jobseekers per vacancy and 8,825 advertised roles available, though this has increased slightly from August when there were only 0.25 jobseekers per vacancy. Guildford and Exeter continue to place second and third with 0.38 jobseekers and 0.4 jobseekers per vacancy respectively.
Bradford remains the toughest city to find a job with 5.92 jobseekers per vacancy and just over 3,000 advertised roles, putting the city ahead of Rochdale (3.86) and Middlesbrough (3.63).
Warehouse roles are the most in demand
For the fourth month running, warehouse work is the top trending job on Adzuna’s Intelligence Portal. This metric tracks demand for a wide range of occupations and designates an Interest Quotient for each role. The higher the quotient, the more in demand those roles are among Adzuna jobseekers.
Lorry driving jobs came second again, although last month’s third-place role – Social care work – has been overtaken by Admin Assistant roles.
Andrew Hunter, co-founder at Adzuna, said: “September traditionally sees a surge in job market activity but the figures we’re seeing this year could signal a cooling off of the job market, which had shown signs of resilience earlier in the year. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The year-on-year hiring gap has narrowed to its smallest in 2023. This suggests that despite the monthly setbacks, the annual outlook presents a more positive picture. The time to fill roles has also decreased, indicating that while competition is higher, employers are making quicker decisions. It’s a mixed bag, but one that warrants cautious optimism.”