Starting salaries growing amid tough recruitment environment

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on January 15th 2022, 5:05am

Professional recruitment firm Robert Walters has said that starting salaries are soaring as businesses compete to bring in talent amid a shortage of skilled workers.

The recruiter’s chief financial officer, Alan Bannatyne, told the BBC that it had been placing graduate lawyers on starting salaries as high as £150,000, while the minimum pay rise his firm had seen among businesses stood at around 15 per cent.

He said: “15 per cent is the minimum pay rise we're seeing, but some are increasing their salaries by up to 50 per cent.

“Unless something significant happens, 2022 should be even better for staff.”

Since Covid-19 restrictions were eased, job vacancies in the UK have soared to record levels and employers have been paying higher wages to attract talent in the wake of fierce competition.

The legal sector has been among the most blighted by skills shortfalls, with job vacancies at London-based law firms rising by 131 per cent year-on-year between January and November 2021 according to figures compiled by BCL Legal and Vacancysoft.

This shortage in skilled workers has helped drive up starting salaries as firms compete to bring talent on board. This has also been the case in the City of London as banks have upped starting salaries to help recruit and retain staff.

Robert Walters, a recruiter which works with professionals to place them into suitable roles, has itself recently celebrated its most lucrative December in business, with net fee income having increased by 39 per cent globally. The firm has a presence in the UK, Europe, Asia and the US.

However, Bannatyne acknowledged that some businesses in sectors that had been hit harder by the pandemic were not able to pay such excessive salaries, with “bricks-and-mortar retailers and airlines” among those who “will probably not be paying bonuses or giving pay rises.”

Such circumstances have seen swathes of workers leave their roles in struggling industries for more lucrative salaries in other sectors.

Bannatyne explained: “They [harder hit industries] become a hunting ground for other high growth businesses, such as online retailers, anything to do with technology and digital, and manufacturers of household goods.”

This exodus of workers moving into new roles and industries has resulted in salaries going up all across the UK, with growth in average pay including bonuses standing at 4.9 per cent year-on-year between August and October 2021 according to the Office for National Statistics.

The salary hike has even been the case in lower paid roles such as supermarket jobs, with Sainsbury’s recently moving to pay its shop workers a minimum of £10 per hour, bringing them in line with competitors Morrisons, Lidl and Aldi.

Photo by Philip Veater on Unsplash

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Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
January 15th 2022, 5:05am

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