£150,000 starting salaries as firms fight for staffon January 11, 2022 at 11:20 am

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A shortage of talent is driving up wages worldwide, says professional recruitment firm Robert Walters.

A woman working at her laptop

Image source, Gt

A professional recruitment firm says it is placing graduate lawyers on starting salaries as high as £150,000 amid a shortage of workers.

Alan Bannatyne, chief financial officer at Robert Walters, told the BBC people in many UK industries were quitting for better paid jobs amid soaring demand.

“15% is the minimum pay rise we’re seeing, but some are increasing their salaries by up to 50%,” he said.

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

Robert Walters, which focuses on placing professionals in roles, said firms were in a “fierce competition for talent” and it was “incredibly hard to find the right people”.

As a result, Mr Bannatyne said salary inflation was the highest he had seen in 20 years, although there had been “winners and losers” from Covid and not everyone was in a position to pay well.

“Bricks-and-mortar retailers and airlines have really struggled so will probably not be paying bonuses or giving pay rises,” he told the BBC.

“So they 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.”

Robert Walters, which has offices in Asia, Europe and the US, said it had seen its best December for sales on record, with net fee income up 39% globally.

Demand in the final three months of the year was strongest in Asia Pacific, it said, but the trend of staff shortages was apparent worldwide, including in the UK.

‘Huge’ bonus pool

Skills shortages have been particularly pronounced in sectors such as law, where vacancies for London-based associates rose some 131% year-on-year between January and November last year, according to data from recruiter BCL Legal and data firm Vacancysoft.

Newly qualified lawyers at the best-known firms are now reportedly earning as much as £147,000 before bonuses.

City banks have also boosted starter salaries to retain talent and Robert Walters predicts the bonus pool this year will be “huge”.

Wages have also been increasing in lower paid jobs. Last week, Sainsbury’s become the latest supermarket to pay shop workers at least £10 an hour, following similar moves from Morrisons, Lidl and Aldi.

In general, UK job vacancies have hit record levels since the economy reopened as employers scramble to meet demand.

At the same time, many workers have revaluated their careers during lockdown and changed jobs or left the workforce, in what some have labelled the “great resignation”.

It has help to drive up salaries across the UK, with growth in average total pay including bonuses standing at 4.9% year-on-year between August and October.

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