Now you see me, Now you don’t: Optometrists are the UK’s most elusive jobseekers

Optometrist roles are the hardest jobs to fill in the UK, with more than two thirds of postings lying vacant for at least 60 days, according to new data from the world’s biggest job site Indeed.

With the UK employment rate at the highest on record, finding suitable new staff has never been more of a challenge for British employers.

The shortage of staff is most acute in sectors that require highly skilled candidates, with Britain’s booming tech sector in particular struggling to find enough people with the right skills and experience – despite paying generous salaries.

The job that is the hardest of all to fill is that of an optometrist, with 68.79% of optometrist vacancies posted on Indeed over the past year remaining unfilled for 60 days or more. Just over half of solicitor roles were still vacant after 60 days, with surgeons not far behind on 46.32%.

Of the top 10 ‘hard to fill’ jobs – i.e. those with the highest proportion of vacancies taking more than 60 days’ to fill – the vast majority are in the tech sector. This is likely to be an indication both of the tech jobs boom – which thus presents great opportunities to talented jobseekers – and also of how employers are having to be patient to find staff with the specialist skills they need.

Software engineers (41.8%), software architects (41.78%), front-end developers(40.31%), system engineers (40.24%), software test engineers (39.86%) and full stack developers (39.76%) are all prominent ‘hard to fill’ jobs. This is despite them being highly lucrative: all pay an average annual salary of £37,500 or more, with the average software architect able to command almost double (£70,000).

Table: Jobs with highest percentage of vacancies that were ‘hard to fill’ in past year
 

Rank Job Title % of vacancies that are ‘hard to fill’ Average Annual Salary
1 Optometrist 68.79 £50,000
2 Solicitor 51.4 £45,000
3 Surgeon 46.32 £41,000
4 Software Engineer 41.8 £40,000
5 Software Architect 41.78 £70,000
6 Front End Developer 40.31 £42,500
7 System Engineer 40.24 £37,500
8 Flight Attendant 40.06 £23,000
9 Software Test Engineer 39.86 £40,000
10 Full Stack Developer 39.76 £47,500


Indeed also examined the data to identify where the most opportunities lie for jobseekers -determining which roles have the highest outright number of ‘hard to fill’postings.

Cleaners account for almost 3% of the jobs currently listed on Indeed that are classed as ‘hard to fill’ – meaning that of all ‘hard to fill’ jobs, one in around 33 is for a cleaner. Although only 11.53% of cleaner jobs are classed as ‘hard to fill,’ the overall quantity of cleaners being sought means that, as a proportion of ‘hard to fill’ jobs, cleaner role stop the list.

Not far behind are support staff (2.15% of ‘hard to fill’ jobs), chefs (2.06%) and customer service representatives (1.91%), while care assistants complete the top five, making up 1.677% of all ‘hard to fill’jobs listed on Indeed’s website.

Table: Jobs with highest proportion of all ‘hard to fill’ postings in the UK in the past year
 

Rank Job Title Jobs with the most ‘hard to fill’ roles (by % market share) Average Annual Salary
1 Cleaner 2.95 £16,640
2 Support Staff 2.15 £17,680
3 Chef 2.06 £18,408
4 Customer Service Representative 1.91 £18,000
5 Care Assistant 1.68 £18,221
6 Customer Assistant 1.60 £19,396
7 Registered Nurse 1.12 £35,360
8 Server 1.05 £17,722
9 Delivery Driver 1.00 £18,616
10 Sales Assistant 0.97 £16,432


Nurses feature alongside care assistants in the top 10. There are fears that the shortfall in nurses in the UK could top 50,000 within the next two years, while Britain’s ageing population is already much more reliant on carers than previous generations.

Among many of the roles where candidates are proving most elusive are lower-skilled and entry-level jobs. Given there is already difficulty in filling these roles, there is rising concern among employers that post-Brexit constraints on the ability of EU citizens to work in the UK could make it even harder for British bosses to source workers.

Bill Richards, UK managing director of Indeed, comments:

“Even at the best of times, finding the right staff requires a winning blend of hiring strategies. But the current jobs’ market has raised the bar for many employers.

“With a higher proportion of the population in work than ever before, the pool of jobseekers is a shallow one. When demand from employers outpaces the supply of workers, it can take a long time to fill vacancies – and our research pinpoints which ones have been most affected.

“The Brexit connection is hard to overlook. Many of the ‘hardest to fill’ roles have historically been ones that were filled by EU workers drawn to the UK by Britain’s more abundant job opportunities. With official data showing net migration from the EU slowing, these roles are set to become even harder to fill.

“But on the other side of the coin, where employers see difficulty, jobseekers should see opportunity. Clearly in a tight labour market like ours, much of the power already sits with the workers, but these roles that are notoriously hard to fill could prove especially fruitful for ambitious jobseekers looking for a new challenge.”

Author: Editorial Team

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