2022: February Job Market Review  

Reed.co.uk’s monthly Job Market Review gives recruiters and businesses fresh insights into what happened in the jobs market last month – including candidate insights and regional and sector labour market performance.

February 2022 Snapshot

  • 232,440 adverts were posted on Reed.co.uk, down by 12% from 263,600 in January 2022
  • Jobs posted in Education, Transport & Logistics, Health & Social Care, and Financial services decreased month-on-month (MoM). Hospitality & Catering jobs increased by 15%
  • Health & Social Care applications increased by 26% MoM
  • Applications in Northern Ireland increased by 25%, and Wales increased by 14%

February calm after the festive storm

After the seasonal highs and lows of the festive period and new year resolutions, February saw a decrease in jobs posted and applied for across most sectors. Education, Transport & Logistics, Health & Social Care and Financial Services job postings decreased MoM by –35%, –21%, –15% and –14%, respectively, but this deficit could seem wider due to more significant numbers in January. 

Compared to last year, job postings for all sectors were up except for Safety & Security, which was down by a whopping -84%, Health & Social Care, which was down by -15% and Engineering, which was down by -11%. This was reflective of the pandemic in 2021.

In February, Hospitality & Catering was the only sector to see a MoM increase in job vacancies, with 15% more jobs posted than in January. This figure suggests that the industry is now looking ahead of the uncertainty that a Covid-restricted Christmas and New Year had on their recruitment efforts. As restrictions look to become an ever-more distant memory, for now at least, hotels, restaurants and venues can plan for a different summer again this year.

Candidate registrations showing year-on-year (YoY) similarities

The YoY data shows a very similar pattern and numbers not wildly different from the second week onwards. Peaking at the beginning of each week, February registrations comfortably sat at a similar rate to last month, with only an 11% decrease on January’s peak registrations total. 

On that note, looking at January’s Blue Monday, ‘the most depressing day of the year’ that hit on the 17th, the same date in February was down by only just over 19%. These figures indicate that candidates are still looking for work, with more normalcy resuming. A more regular and less chaotic pattern is repeating each week with the usual lulls at the weekend, and 51% of registered candidates made their CVs searchable. 

 A U-turn for Health & Social Care?

February applications didn’t show anything particularly remarkable, with YoY comparisons having to unfairly compete with restrictions and furlough data, and so it’s natural to see those figures have some stark differences. However, Health & Social Care appear to be the break-away sector here, with a 26% increase in applications compared to January and a 7% increase YoY. 

Up to now, we have often reported that the Health & Social Care sector has significantly suffered from poor PR and a struggling infrastructure, so what’s changed? 

Our November and December job market review looked at how the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers correlated with a significant shift of interest in the sector. However, in February, the government confirmed a U-turn on mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers (1), looking to be signed off over the coming weeks. 

The vaccine mandate decision is likely to have affected applications to Health & Social Care, with people either looking to return to work, restored faith in the sector for new starters, or the result of a positive PR push from the NHS and private sector. There is also the matter of health and social care visas, updates on which were announced in February. 

As part of new temporary measures to address the workforce challenges faced by the Health & Social Care sector, several care sector roles were added to the UK Shortage Occupation List (SOL). This government compiled list of occupations is in short supply in the UK, allowing employers to hire and sponsor overseas workers in these roles with more relaxed eligibility criteria than those not on the list. So from 16 February 2022 and for 12 months, job roles on the list will be eligible for Health and Care visas (2). This could also be a significant contributing factor in the very welcome Health & Social Care applications boost.

Wales and Northern Ireland: Candidates are ready as restrictions end

Regionally there wasn’t much movement in applications across England and Scotland, but job applications in Wales up by 14%, and Northern Ireland leaping by a huge 25% compared to January painted a very different picture. 

As England and Scotland relaxed restrictions at similar times over a more extended period, Wales (3) and Northern Ireland (4) kept cautious, so bringing in their ease of rules from the 15th February onwards has had a demonstrable impact on candidates’ applications in those regions. 

This could also be reflected in the inflated Health & Social Care applications mentioned previously and the increase in Hospitality & Catering jobs posted as normalcy is resumed across the nation.

Looking ahead

The government’s ‘Plan A’ was a significant determinant of how the market would perform last month, and it seems to have worked. While down in postings and applications, February looked positive and reflective of the economic and social climate at that time. 

As we move ahead and navigate uncertain times in Europe and beyond, external factors that affect the cost of living, fuel prices and consumer spending will likely impact figures in job posting and applications. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how personal and financial situations will fuel the candidate market over the coming weeks and how they prepare for the future, whether that’s looking at salary increases, different benefits (5), or job stability in other sectors. 

On home turf, there are more changes on the way that businesses and employees alike need to prepare for. The cost of employment could see an increase, with changes in NI contributions coming in the new tax year. A temporary increase of 1.25% on Employee & Employer NI Contributions is marked to come in while a new UK-wide tax to fund the Health and Social Care levy integrates into the system. With this comes increases in Living Wage and National Minimum Wage, among other changes, so there is prep work to consider on both sides of the employment fence (6).


  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/revoking-vaccination-as-a-condition-of-deployment-across-all-health-and-social-care/revoking-vaccination-as-a-condition-of-deployment-across-all-health-and-social-care  
  2. https://www.davidsonmorris.com/health-and-care-visa/ 
  3. https://gov.wales/written-statement-health-protection-coronavirus-restrictions-no-5-wales-regulations-2020-0
  4. https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/minister-swann-announces-easing-covid-regulations
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2022/feb/12/cost-of-living-crisis-the-squeeze-is-on-heres-what-you-can-do 
  6. https://www.simplicityinbusiness.co.uk/blog/prepare-for-the-cost-of-employment-increase-april-2022/