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The Great Shuffle in the UK: record-high job-to-job moves in Q4 of 2021

Is it the Great Resignation, or is it the Great Shuffle? New data by the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicates it is the latter, rather than the former — with job-to-job moves in the at a record-high 1.14 million in Q4 of 2021.

Jasper Spanjaart on February 18, 2022 Average reading time: 3 min
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The Great Shuffle in the UK: record-high job-to-job moves in Q4 of 2021

We’ve long awaited any real data to back up the notion that Europe, too, will seen an increase in its total number of resignations. Now, new data by the Office of National Statistics for the fourth quarter of 2021 (Q4) gives us a real indication that job swaps are happening en masse. In Q4 of 2021, approximately 1.14 million job-to-job moves took place in the United Kingdom. That is the highest number of job-to-job moves taking place in a single quarter during a the 20 years wherein the ONS has measured it.

Job-moves were slowly becoming a trend since the beginning of the 2010s, but the period of uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic led to a drastic fall. Now, due to a variety of reasons, the Great Shuffle — not Resignation — is taking place. “It’s a more fluid market than perhaps we’ve seen in a lot of years”, said recruiting expert Bill Boorman on an episode of Recruitment Revealed by Gary Berney. “So I view it as The Great Shuffle, in which there will be some winners and losers. I think that describes the market much better.”

The Great Shuffle taking place in the UK. Source: Statista

“It’s a more fluid market than perhaps we’ve seen in a lot of years.”

The Great Shuffle is driven by a couple of key factors, as noted by Boorman. “I think people have put a lot of energy in a sort of survival mode, to get through the two years. Some people have done a lot, and now they’re ready for the next chapter, a new role. Meanwhile, organisations who are having difficulties to hire are throwing out hail mary offers. With these breathtaking salaries that are on offer, now is the time when employees are at their premium.”

Vacancies nearing record-high 1.3 million

While job-to-job moves still, at least, puts someone into a job — less can be said about the total number of vacancies. As vacancies started off at a below-average rate of approximately 611 thousand at the beginning of 2021, it now more than doubled. There were an average of 1.298 million job vacancies across November 2021 to January 2022, up from 1.185 million the previous three months.

“The good news is that the economy is continuing to create jobs. The bad news is that businesses are struggling to hire.”

The growth rate, however, finally slowed down. Although the number of vacancies continues to rise across most industries, education and transport and storage industries fell compared to a quarter ago. Education’s growth rate was at 17.3% (compared to 19.3% in the previous quarter). Transport and storage fell to 17.1%, from 43.4%. The current ratio of 4.3 vacancies to 100 employee jobs is a new record, too. “The good news is that the economy is continuing to create jobs. The bad news is that businesses are struggling to hire”, said Matthew Percival, director for people and skills at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

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Jasper Spanjaart

Jasper Spanjaart

Editor-in-Chief and Writer at ToTalent.eu
Editor-in-Chief and writer for European Total Talent Acquisition platform ToTalent.eu.
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