White collar jobs market defies Brexit says Robert Walters UK CEO

The UK professional services hiring market shrugged off Brexit uncertainty and instability to perform better than expected, according to Robert Walters’ UK CEO, Chris Hickey.

Commenting on Robert Walters’ data showing a 17% increase in professional job vacancies compared with the previous year, Hickey says: “While the UK was defined by a year of political and economic instability due to Brexit, the hiring market performed better than anticipated.”

According to Robert Walters, the biggest increases in hiring activity took place in Birmingham (+26%), Belfast (25%), Manchester (+24%), Glasgow (+23%) and Nottingham (+23%). 

Explaining the data that most regions outside of London had almost double the job growth of the capital, Hickey says: “The nearshoring of roles – in particular back-office and operations – to other regions in the UK (namely the Midlands and North-West) is something that has been on the agenda for some time and in fact is not Brexit related, but is a decision based on cost-saving. From a London perspective, nearshoring has had more of a significant impact on hiring activity than Brexit.”

Meanwhile, a survey also by Robert Walters indicates that after two years of pay freezes, salaries for white-collar workers are set to rise. According to the survey, salaries are expected to increase by 3% across the UK in 2020.

The survey predicts the biggest pay increases for white collar professionals will be in The Midlands (+4.46%), The North (+3.31%), followed by South-East (+2.90%) and Merseyside (+2.86%).

London will experience the slowest growth in salaries at +2.15% – less than half of the increase expected in The Midlands.

Professionals working in legal, marketing, procurement, accounting & finance and tech-based roles will see their pay increase above the 3% national average. Whereas salaries within HR, banking, and logistics will remain static – at most receiving a 1-2% increase.

For contractors, the most lucrative day-rate increases are expected to be in procurement (+8%), supply chain (+5%) and marketing (+4%), with contractors working in HR, banking and logistics seeing the lowest increases. 

“What the data in the Robert Walters salary survey highlights is that the UK will continue to be a global hub for professional services – from legal, HR, accounting, marketing, tech and business support – the UK continues to have some of the best skilled talent in the world,” adds Hickey.

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