Census of Employment: changing occupations

Working in the laboratory Jobs are growing in health services and vehicle-related manufacturing but falling in retail and the wider public sector. agendaNi analyses the latest figures from the Census of Employment.

As agendaNi has reported (issue 56, pages 24-27) the 2011 Census of Employment recorded a smaller workforce than in 2009. Most sectors saw a decrease in employment due to the recession with construction, retail, public administration and education hit hardest.

More detailed statistics, covering specific occupations, were published in January. Seven occupations had gained at least 1,000 employees. Human health was the strongest (+2,190) and represented front-line health care workers outside hospitals.

This was followed by those in hospitals (+1,897), people in temporary employment (+1,355) and human resources (+1,273), the manufacturing of vehicle parts (+1,087). Good performances for Wrightbus, Schrader and Ryobi accounted for most of the latter increase.

Childcare gained 1,087 posts. Computer programming and consultancy was also a strong driver for jobs growth (+797).

Clear upturns also took place in machining (+240), telecommunications (+276), insurance (+296) and management consultancy (+308). Rather surprisingly, the real estate sector had grown by 533 jobs: an indication of higher demand for existing stock as house construction trends remained flat.

Eighteen occupations had lost 1,000 or more employees.  ‘Social work services’ had the greatest reduction on paper (-5,464) but in practice the opposite is true.  The Northern Ireland Social Care Council commented that services are often “restructured or reclassified” due to the overlap between nursing and social care.  The council’s registry shows that the social care workforce is growing and the number of professional social workers is stable.

Major losses were recorded in pubs and bars (-1,963) and all forms of construction. The construction downturn also resulted in lay-offs for electricians (-628) and architects (-509) and, to lesser extent, quarry workers (-190) and plumbers (-170).

Call centres, a growing sector before the recession, lost 908 jobs. In creative industries, publishers lost 130 jobs (among newspapers and magazines alike) but broadcasters gained 49. Northern Ireland has 142 more performing artists but 353 fewer staff for producing or recording their art.

The number of employees in conventional electricity generation, transmission and distribution fell by 94 but those in other forms of electricity production (e.g. wind farms) rose by 119.

The highest percentage increase was in head office activities, up 531.5 per cent. This increase, from 73 to 461 staff, is linked to inward investment in IT, legal and financial services.

In a sign of the times, film processing had the largest percentage decrease, down 63.2 per cent from 95 to 35 staff. This was closely followed by the manufacturing of machinery for mining, down 59 per cent from 329 jobs to 135 jobs, partly due to the closure of drill bit factory Hughes Christensen.

Retail, as a broad category, remained Northern Ireland’s largest occupation, employing 88,957 people but down from 90,987 two years previously.

The least common occupation is not known. Information for a large number of occupations was not published on confidentiality grounds.

Alternatively, Northern Ireland may not have any jobs in that field. Statisticians must use the American-designed ‘standard industrial classification’ which includes space transport and diplomacy.

The smallest recorded occupations were logging, ship and boat repair and trading from market stalls alone.  Each of these had nine employees.  ‘Ship and boat repair’ appears unusually small but companies must describe the activity that the majority of employees carry out at one workplace.  Harland & Wolff and Heyn Engineering carry out repairs but most of their employees build ships or work in other types of engineering.

Wage levels are recorded in the separate Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. The next census takes place in 2013 with the initial results to be published in late 2014.

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