Job vacancies figure slumps again
The number of job vacancies slumped by a quarter in some parts of the UK this year, with an average of 23 people chasing every post, according to a new study.
Recruitment firm Totaljobs said there was a "huge" 28% fall in available posts in Scotland and 16% in Wales as the "faint recovery" in job growth at the start of 2011 stalled.
The supply of jobs increased by 8% across the UK as a whole this year, but there was also a 42% rise in the number of applications.
Prospects improved in some sectors such as oil and gas, aerospace and engineering, but it was offset by a "significant" fall in public sector employment, said the report.
John Salt, director of totaljobs.com, said: "2011 started fairly positively with a peak in jobs around March. Since then, the whole market has frozen with companies reluctant to risk a rise in headcount when consumer confidence is taking a battering and uncertainty around the future of the euro threatens to pull the whole economy back into recession.
"The worry from looking at this year's statistics is that they indicate a much deeper structural problem with the labour market.
"The sectors that are showing job growth are those that require specialised skills, for example in engineering, aerospace and oil and gas industries but these haven't seen a real rise in the applications per job.
"For those requiring less technical training, for example in customer services or secretarial jobs, applications per job have risen by over 50%. This suggests that those without technical skills that are currently in demand could be frozen out of the workforce."
Competition for work is fiercest in the South East, with 33 applicants per job, compared with 10 in East Anglia, the study found.
Mr Salt said the omens for 2012 were "pretty grim", predicting an increase in unemployment and a fall in vacancies.