Area focus: North West pt. 2 – The state of play

As mentioned in part one of this area focus, the competition for jobs in the North West remains above the national average for the third year in a row… but the latest statistics might suggest a change in the wind.

The North West has shown continued improvement over the past year, with quarter one of 2013 showing a 12% decrease in applications per job compared with Q1 of 2012. Furthermore, applications per job have decreased consistently every month this year, with April’s statistics coming closest to the national average since December 2011.

The atmosphere in the North West is certainly more optimistic, and with the number of unemployed falling by 18,000 to 277,000 (8% of the working population in the region) between January and March, the mood seems justified.

The amount of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance in the North West also declined to 201,607, which is 10,574 less than Q1 of 2012. Greater Manchester fell by 1,500 to 84,000, but long-term claimants in the same area increased to 38,000 with a monthly rise of 600. With that said, JSA claimants between the age of 16-24 declined by approximately 1,000 each month and now sits at 22,300.

The region is also showing signs of regaining business confidence as Barclays bank conducted a study earlier this year which placed the North West as the third most encouraging region for positive employment prospects. This may provide some relief for the growing concerns on youth unemployment, as four fifths of young people within the region in 2011 admitted that the recession had permanently affected their career prospects.

Sector movement within the North West

With the UK managing to avoid a triple dip recession, the competition for jobs in most regions, including the North West, is beginning to ease. Many sectors have seen significant positive developments as the amount of jobs posted within the region has improved year-on-year since 2010.

Totaljobs barometer statistics found that accountancy in particular had improved drastically, as the amount of jobs posted doubled from 877 in Q1 of 2012 to 1980 in 2013, with applications per job also falling significantly from 16.7 to 9.2. Banking has also seen vast improvements with applications per job decreasing from 17.5 to 11.7.

The legal sector has seen no change in applications per job, but the jobs posted and applications have both decreased considerably. This could be set to change in the near future, as nine law firms in the North West have united to provide 100 apprenticeship opportunities in an attempt to boost the sector. Recruitment sales however, saw an increase in applications per job and a decrease in jobs posted, putting it with electronics as sectors that have seen a detrimental start to 2013.

Construction and the Oil, Gas and Energy sectors have both seen positive development in 2013, as a new appetite for property in the North West has seen the amount of jobs posted in the former increase by 16% in comparison with 2012. The applications per job for the Oil, Gas and Energy sector has dropped from 11 to 5 while the amount of jobs increased from 209 to 224 in April. This looks set to improve with IGas planning to build shale gas wells between Manchester and Liverpool, creating massive scope for new job opportunities. The Director General of the IoD Simon Walker believes that this venture could be a monumental success for the region:

“We believe that this is potentially a huge success story for the North West,”

“In a report we published a year ago we suggested that there could be 6 trillion cubic feet of Shale gas under the ground in Britain and extracting it could create 35,000 jobs”.

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