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Coronavirus: New job vacancies at 'highest level since lockdown'

School crossing patrol UK. (Photo by Photofusion/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Jobs in school crossing patrols, lunchtime supervision and secretarial work saw the biggest increases in vacancies, according to new figures. Photo: Photofusion/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The number of new job adverts posted online last week hit its highest weekly total since early March before the coronavirus lockdown, new figures suggest.

A survey by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) found almost 129,000 vacancies had been advertised between 14 and 20 September. It marked a 3% increase on the previous week, and the total number of postings is now up by a quarter on levels seen at the start of June.

The data will boost hopes of at least a partial recovery in the UK jobs market, despite rising unemployment that UK chancellor Rishi Sunak admitted on Thursday would continue to grow still further.

Employers have slashed hundreds of thousands of jobs in recent months, but hiring has also picked up. Major supermarkets and logistics firms like Tesco and Amazon are among those to have announced recent hiring sprees, but the latest data suggests hiring in education sector has also picked up as the new school year gets underway.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak admits unemployment will rise despite ‘radical’ job support scheme

Adverts for school support roles such as crossing patrols and lunchtime supervision leapt 17.1% on the previous week, while school secretary roles were up 13.6%.

Meanwhile demand also rose for childminders, up 10.2%, and playworkers, up 7.7%. The latest REC Jobs Recovery Tracker report said this was “likely to be driven by more people returning to workplaces over recent weeks, either as workplaces re-opened or as term-time workers returned to work.”

Weekly job postings, according to the REC. Chart: REC
Weekly job postings, according to the REC. Chart: REC

Secondary school teaching vacancies rose 5.9%, and primary roles were up 3.6%. Other areas posting strong growth included chefs, up 5.4%, waiters, up 4.2%, and programmers and software development professionals, up 4.3%.

READ MORE: Sunak unveils ‘winter economy plan’ to safeguard jobs

“Since lockdown restrictions were lifted at the beginning of June, we have seen the number of job adverts increasing steadily as the economy began its recovery,” said Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC.

“In recent weeks, this recovery has accelerated in the areas you would expect – education and childminding as people return to school and work, construction and logistics, and also healthcare occupations not directly related to the pandemic.”

He said there was “hope” the improving trend would persist in spite of new coronavirus restrictions imposed nationwide this week, as they “did not close down significant parts of our economy.”

Separate figures from jobs site Adzuna and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Thursday also showed job adverts rising. Total ad numbers were up from 53% of their 2019 average to 55%, with an increase in 20 of the 28 sectoral categories.

Watch: UK online job ads at highest since March