Job creation up by +27%, however key sectors struggle

The jobs market got off to a positive start at the beginning of 2024, with the number of new jobs advertised across the professional services market increasing by +27%.

In the past month, over 25,000 new jobs have been posted online in the professional services sector – an increase of +7% from January 2019 (pre-pandemic).

In addition, job creation in 2023 surpassed what we saw in 2019 pre-pandemic – increasing by 16%. The findings come from international recruitment consultancy Robert Walters and data analytics firm, Vacancysoft.

Chris Eldridge – CEO of Robert Walters UK comments:
“The post-pandemic hiring boom skewed our understanding of the jobs market. In 2021-22 we saw unprecedented levels of hiring, however the majority of this was a backlog of roles that needed to be filled post-lockdown.

“2024 looks set to be the first year where recruitment returns to its ‘normal’ cycle – with the usual seasonal lows across the summer and Christmas period taking effect.”

Not Out The Dark Yet
When comparing new job creation in January 2024 to the previous year, job volumes are down -20%.

Comparing January 2024 to the previous 5-year average then job vacancies are down -15.6%.

Chris adds: 
“With inflation rates yet to fully stabilise, a number of large firms announcing a restructure, calls for a 2024 election, and ongoing geo-political conflicts – it is not surprising to see that January has been lukewarm on the jobs front compared to last year.”

Technology Recovers from Bruising
Tech was dealt some major blows in 2023, which the sector is still recouping from. Pandemic over-hiring – resulting in mass lay-offs – and diminished VC funding for tech start-ups have all had considerable effect on hiring within the sector.

Despite this there are still key skillsets in demand: information security, software engineer (+2% YoY) and data scientist roles (+6% YoY) are all still in-demand – especially within financial disciplines.

Chris comments: 
“During the pandemic the technology industry experienced such exponential growth that it’s post-pandemic fall was almost written in the stars – this was a ‘levelling-off’ not a decline of the sectors growth. AI and automation, information security and cyber-security – are all areas which show definite promise.”

Banking Remains Resilient
Hiring within banking and financial services has stayed resilient, on the one hand, due to its integration of tech – in both Fintech and generative AI and Automation to enhance customer experience and on the other, through London’s continued attractiveness as a hotspot to international financial services firms.

According to Robert Walters’ 2024 salary survey, in-demand operational roles in the sector are still commanding considerable salaries – with Investment Analysts working at AVP/Associate level and Associate Level Regulatory Reporting roles seeing annual earnings of £110k and £90k respectively.

The pandemic led to a lack of new talent entering the market between 2021-22, resulting in hefty salaries being dealt to entry level legal positions. Now the dust has settled on this bottleneck and firms are having to implement cost-cutting strategies.

In January, news came of City law firms requesting employees either agree to reduced hours or voluntary pay cuts to avoid layoffs in the wake of a work slowdown.

On the flip side, regulatory law is one of the most in-demand specialisms in 2024 – with roles in regulatory compliance in legal up +30% over the last year.

Not only that, AI skills in legal have seen a +137% rise in UK professionals over the last year – this is only predicted to increase further and hiring demand remains very high. Whilst cybersecurity skillsets are also up +47% on last year.

Risk, compliance and financial crime
With many new regulations and policies set to come into effect across 2024 this industry is set to become very busy – especially positions within compliance and risk law, where hiring demand is extremely high.

From the rise of GenAI, stricter financial crime regulation to cryptocurrency, rises in digital fraud and cybersecurity/cyber-crime risks – a host of factors contribute to this sectors’ ability to stay buoyant.

Chris comments: 
“The digitisation of the finance sector, as well as the rise in GenAI and crypto has had a significant impact on the need for risk and compliance professionals – this is something that will only increase throughout the year.”

Chris concludes: 
“Coming off-the-back of what was a record year for hiring in 2022, last year proved a notoriously difficult year – with hiring for the year down -32.45% compared to 2019, pre-pandemic levels.

“Though we aren’t completely out of the clear yet – January 2024 is down -15.6% compared to the previous 5-year averages – we can safely say that there is a much more positive outlook. The number of jobs being advertised online remains conservative – this isn’t indicative of the internal work, hiring and training many companies are currently doing.

“Not only that, but we are already seeing the green shoots of growth with many sectors in professional services retaining resilient vacancies within in-demand specialisms.”

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