A professional recruitment firm says it is placing graduate lawyers on starting salaries as high as £150,000 amid a shortage of workers.
According to Alan Bannatyne, chief financial officer at Robert Walters, people in many UK industries are leaving for better-paying jobs due to rising demand.
“The minimum pay increase we’re seeing is 15%, but some are increasing their salaries by up to 50%,” he said.
“Unless something drastic happens, 2022 should be even better for employees.”
As employers scramble to meet demand, job vacancies in the United Kingdom have reached all-time highs since the economy reopened.
According to Robert Walters, a firm that specialises in placing professionals in positions, this has created a “fierce competition for talent” and made it “incredibly difficult to find the right people.”
Employers have raised wages to attract workers, though Mr Bannatyne stated that there were “winners and losers” at Covid and that not everyone could afford to pay well.
“Brick-and-mortar retailers and airlines have really struggled, so bonuses and pay raises are unlikely,” he told the BBC.
“As a result, they become a hunting ground for other high-growth businesses, such as online retailers, anything to do with technology and digital, and household goods manufacturers.”
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Robert Walters, which has offices in Asia, Europe, and the United States, reported its best December ever, with net fee income increasing by 39% globally.
Manpower, a recruitment agency, reported a similar trend, with employers struggling to fill vacancies for highly skilled positions.
“It is absolutely a candidate-led market right now,” UK director Chris Gray told the BBC.
“Those with in-demand skills wield power, as well as the freedom and flexibility to accept a job that meets their specific needs and expectations.”
‘Huge’ bonus pool
According to research from recruiter BCL Legal and data firm Vacancysoft, skills shortages have been especially severe in sectors such as law, where vacancies for London-based associates increased by 131 percent year on year between January and November last year.
Newly qualified lawyers at the most prestigious firms are reportedly earning up to £147,000 before bonuses.
City banks have also increased starter salaries in order to retain talent, and Robert Walters predicts that this year’s bonus pool will be “huge.”
Lower-wage jobs have also seen wage increases. Following similar moves by Morrisons, Lidl, and Aldi, Sainsbury’s became the latest supermarket to pay shop workers at least £10 an hour last week.
During the lockdown, many workers reassessed their careers, changing jobs or leaving the workforce, in what some have dubbed the “great resignation.”
It has helped to drive up salaries across the UK, with growth in average pay including bonuses standing at 4.9% year-on-year between August and October.
James Reed, chairman of recruitment agency Reed Recruitment, said the UK was in the midst of a “jobs boom” that showed no signs of abating.
“It’s the best time in 50 years to look for a new job, in a situation where the pendulum has swung in jobseekers’ favour.”