What shaped UK recruitment in 2015?

  • The total number of job vacancies in the UK was up 22% year-on-year for January-November
  • Businesses have expanded, pushing demand for professionals in marketing (up 63%), secretarial and support (up 37%) and supply chain and logistics (up 30%)
  • Pressure from regulators on banking and financial services firms drove demand for compliance professionals (up 10%) and legal professionals (up 48%)

Throughout 2015, the UK job market has been characterised by growing demand for professionals in the majority of fields, with business expansion and pressure from regulators playing key roles in influencing hiring strategies.

Figures taken from the Robert Walters UK Jobs Index, which tracks the number of roles advertised across the UK, illustrate that most professions have seen significant net growth the in the number of jobs advertised compared to 2014.


Some of the biggest growth seen was in roles relating to business expansion such as marketing (up 63%), secretarial and support (up 37%), and supply chain and logistics roles (up 30%).

Among banking and financial services employers, despite a number of factors impacting confidence in the market, demand for professionals grew in light of pressure from domestic and international regulators. Compared to 2014 the number of compliance roles grew by 10% while the number of legal roles increased by 48%. 

Chris Hickey, Robert Walters CEO- UK, Middle East and Africa comments;

“Overall, 2015 has been a positive year for recruitment in the UK, despite a number of domestic and international factors moderating confidence in the market.”

“Pressure from regulators has played a critical role in driving recruitment within banking and financial services, with legal and compliance professionals seeing high demand for their skills among City employers, as well as in the North West and Midlands as large financial institutions have expanded mid and back office teams in these regions.”

“Outside of banking and financial services, we have seen high demand for professionals associated with business growth. Marketing professionals have been particularly sought after as firms seek to win new business, with a particular emphasis on generalists with strong digital skills.”

“The increase in demand for secretarial professionals can likewise be attributed to firms looking to grow and taking on more staff to support this, with secretarial professionals playing an increasingly broad and diverse role in supporting other teams.”

“The growing demand for supply chain professionals can likewise be attributed to firms looking to expand operations and grow their businesses.”


This rise in demand has lead to a skills shortage across a wide range of professions, and hiring managers have shown increased flexibility in their hiring criteria to fill business critical roles throughout the year.

In particular, hiring managers have been open to recruiting workers from different professions with transferable skills in fields which have been particularly impacted by skills shortages.

Chris Hickey continues:

“2015 has been characterised by a shift towards a candidate-friendly jobs market as employers have had to compete to attract the best professionals.”

“One of the consequences of this has been hiring managers broadening their criteria in order to fill business critical positions. This has been particularly prevalent for junior to mid level positions where the talent shortage has been particularly acute.”


With skills shortages set to intensify in 2016, employers will increasingly require professionals with transferable skill sets as they focus on developing talent internally through training and mentoring. Professionals with high value skills will also be in a strong position to negotiate for roles with clear career development and a good work life balance, with these factors potentially taking precedence over remuneration in some areas.

Chris Hickey comments:

“As the skills shortage drives up salaries in certain sectors in 2016, we expect to see mid-career professionals retraining to make themselves eligible for careers in high-growth industries, particularly the fast-growing digital sector.”

“With multinationals investing heavily in the UK to make use of British talent, experienced professionals taking the initiative to up-skill will be particularly attractive hires to employers.”

“We also expect to see a growing transfer of shared service centres to sites outside London, motivated by cost considerations as organisations bring previously off-shored services back to the UK creating demand for professionals in fields such as accountancy and finance, legal administration and operations.”

“To avoid staff attrition in an increasingly competitive market for skills, especially amongst more junior job seekers, we recommend that employers tailor rewards packages to include flexible working conditions and clear career paths.  Above all, we advise hiring managers act quickly to ensure that positions are filled with their first choice candidate.”

For further information, please contact Alan O'Doherty on alan.odoherty@robertwalters.com or 020 7509 8839

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