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London sees sharp decrease in online job advertisements

The index for the number of online job advertisements in London has almost halved since November 2021, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

Online job advertisements in London have decreased by 49.8%, exceeding the 43.9% total decline in England and the 36.5% total decline in the UK within the same time period.

Research fellow at Blackfriars Hall of Oxford University and director of Las Casas Institute’s Economics Programme Peter Rona said the changes in numbers are very dramatic. 

“When faced with fluctuations of this magnitude, we must look at external factors impacting on the industry in question as potential sources of explanation for these changes,” he explained.

According to Rona, these external factors include the fortunes of affected industries, Brexit, and shifts in government economic policy – in other words, whether government support wavers from one industry to the next. 

Rona suggested that company layoffs may also influence this trend, questioning whether affected industries are under general pressure, or whether only certain companies have been mismanaged.

He said: “If one company lays off a lot of people, those laid off would go to work for competitors in the industry through networking, so those companies would not need to advertise online for job applicants.”

The industries showing the greatest decrease in the index for the number of online job advertisements are marketing and public relations, which has decreased by two-thirds, human resources and recruitment, and manufacturing. 

A creative writing graduate of a London university, 22, applying for jobs in marketing and PR, considered the statistics ‘disheartening’, especially in this digital age.

She said: “It’s difficult enough as it is, as you’re always up against at least 100 other people when applying for such jobs.

“I thought maybe I could do marketing and public relations because I thought there’d actually be more jobs available.”

She is planning to search for alternate ways – such as networking events – to approach job applications, believing companies have the power to create more jobs in marketing and public relations. 

She said: “Fellow applicants should get someone’s business card, ask for work experience even if it’s unpaid, and be proactive overall – it’s very much a case of who you know, not what you know.” 

Despite the drastic London and nationwide falls in the number of online job advertisements, sectors such as education and tourism, and part-time and weekend jobs do show remarkable increases in these indices.

With the index for the number of online education job advertisements experiencing a 60.7% increase, a 23-year-old SU president at a South West London university considering jobs in primary education found the data ‘impressive’ and ‘quite surprising’.

She said: “To be a teacher is something I’ve always wanted to do, just to make a difference. The more the merrier in the sector.”

Based on her experience, she also noticed that education job application processes are ‘simple, straightforward, and well laid out’, unlike applications for some jobs in other sectors. 

Exceeding that of the education sector, the job advertisement index for part-time and weekend jobs has almost quadrupled since late 2021.

Head of engineering at software firm Working Eye and former chief technology officer Med Bukey, from St Margaret’s, confessed he prefers his part-time role as a hypnotherapist.

He was not surprised to learn about the trend experienced by part-time and weekend job advertisements.

“Companies are showing a lack of commitment, and many people aren’t doing the careers they like – in fact, more people have multiple part-time jobs,” he claimed.

However, as an executive of Working Eye, a company working at the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI), education, and media, Bukey was surprised to learn about education and tourism experiencing remarkable increases in the number of online job advertisements. 

Bukey is also saddened to learn about the decline in the manufacturing industry.

Bukey advised current applicants to look at where the world is going, as the skills in demand are continuously changing.

As to whether or not the dramatic fall in the index for the number of online job advertisements is a long-term one, Rona is unsure. 

He remarked: “It would be rash to conclude that these numbers indicate any kind of a long-term trend without understanding the context in which these numbers arise.”

To further investigate the underlying context, Rona suggested that researchers conduct surveys on the potential explaining factors. 

“That’s a major job that will take you months,” he said.

The individual index values for online job advertisements have been updated on a weekly basis and adjusted based on the February 2020 average of the quantity of online job advertisements calculated by the ONS.

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