Scottish jobs market strenghtens

Scottish job market

Totaljobs recently reported an unprecedented rise in job opportunities in Scotland. Financial journalist and author Ian Fraser explains why.

As Scotland ponders whether to remain part of the UK ahead of next year’s referendum, its jobs market is humming. The growth of private sector jobs over the past three years has been ahead of the UK as a whole. A recent Bank of Scotland survey showed that in June more people were appointed to permanent positions than in any of the previous six years, and the unemployment rate is 7.5%, below the UK average of 7.8%.

The Bank of Scotland’s Labour Market Barometer, which stood at 58.5 in June, is sharply up on May’s 54.7. This pick-up was the biggest since October 2007. Bank of Scotland chief economist Donald MacRae said, “Improvements in job market conditions were spread across all sectors. These results signal a further strengthening of the recovery in the Scottish economy and bode well for employment throughout 2013.”

Data from Totaljobs show that in the second quarter of 2013, the Scottish jobs market grew to heights not seen since 2010. A 24% year-on-year rise in jobs advertised means Scotland is the UK’s second-fastest growing region after North-West England.  In the second quarter of 2012, 13,197 jobs were advertised in Scotland – that increased to 16,328 in the second quarter of 2012. Construction in particular has been buoyant as a result of an accelerated capital investment programme introduced by first minister Alex Salmond in 2008-10.


Breaking down the Scottish jobs market

The country’s important financial sector is recovering from the body-blow it suffered with the near-collapse of its two biggest banks in autumn 2008. Signs of improvement include the 1,717 jobs advertised in banking, insurance and finance jobs advertised in the first half of 2013. These attracted 17,993 applications, or 10.5 per job. The numbers are marginally down on second half of 2012, when 2,103 finance jobs were advertised, attracting 26,300 applications – 12.5 per job, suggesting softer demand.
Graduate level jobs are more sought after than ever. Joanne Parsons, resourcing partner at Scottish Widows Investment Partnership recently said the Lloyds-owned asset-management firm received over 100 applicants for the four graduate places it is offering in 2013 – that’s 25 applicants per job.

Scotland’s financial services sector directly employs 85,000 people in Scotland, indirectly employing 100,000 more. The biggest current demand for recruits is in sales, risk management and compliance. Asset managers, insurers and IFAs are hiring more than banks. However there is growing demand for experienced systems consultants from Lloyds and RBS.  Prominent current advertisers on Totaljobs include RBS/NatWest (two roles in Edinburgh), insurer AIG (one role in Glasgow), Barclays Wealth (four roles in Glasgow), recruitment consultants Johnston Greer (12 roles in Edinburgh and Glasgow) insurance brokers Alexander Lloyd (five jobs including a regional compliance officer at a salary of £40,000) and recruitment consultants Badenoch & Clark (24 roles across Edinburgh and Glasgow). Fund management firm Baillie Gifford, which employs 750 largely in Edinburgh and increased assets by 22 per cent to £85bn last year, is looking to hire 80 people in 2013, including seven into its graduate trainee scheme.

The legal sector, which has downsized since the bursting of the credit bubble in 2008, is barely recruiting in Scotland. A mere 129 legal jobs were advertised in the first half of 2013, soliciting just 495 applications – 3.8 per job.

Demand is stronger in accountancy where 1,856 jobs were advertised in Scotland in the first half. These attracted 13,544 applications or 7.3 each. (That’s down on the 1,616 accountancy jobs advertised in the second half of 2012, which attracted 9.4 applicants per role). The phenomenon of fewer applicants per role – softer demand – seems widespread.

With 2,763 jobs advertised, the Scottish IT and internet sector is bigger than financial services in recruitment terms. But the 15,043 applications meant only 5.4 applications per role. The country’s strong oil, gas and renewable energy sector advertised more jobs than any other sector in the first half of 2013 –4,876 jobs advertised solicited 41,300 applications – 8.5 per job.

The referendum debate

The in-out referendum on Scottish independence due to be held in September 2014, is creating uncertainties for Scotland’s financial sector. In May the UK Treasury claimed thousands of banking and finance jobs would be lost if the country leaves the UK.

Economic secretary to the Treasury Sajid Javid said Scotland-based banks and insurers, such as RBS and Standard Life would suffer from losing access to the “seamless” single UK market for financial services.

But John Swinney, the Scottish finance secretary accused Javid of scaremongering. “This is just the latest attempt to attack an independent Scotland’s ability to be an economic success story,” Swinney said.

Totaljobs will be holding a Google Hangout on how Scottish independence will affect the economy and jobseekers in the country in late July. Keep checking the Totaljobs YouTube channel to watch the video.


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