More than a quarter of British companies were looking for new employees last year, new figures from Jobcentre Plus reveal.
Around 586,000 businesses sought new staff in 2005, up from 559,000 in 2004, with small businesses making up 56 per cent of these, the data shows.
However, larger companies advertised the highest number of vacancies, with 29 per cent of vacancies advertised externally in 2005 advertised by businesses with between 50 and 250 staff.
Minister for employment, Jim Murphy, said: "The results of this survey reveal the current strength of the UK labour market. The number of companies looking to recruit new staff is on the increase at a time when employment is at record levels."
"We have set ourselves an ambitious target of reaching an 80 per cent employment rate and recognise that we need to do more to help match those who are now looking for work with the over 600 thousand vacancies in the UK economy."
The figures also revealed that 88 per cent of vacancies were successfully filled in 2005, up from 86 per cent in 2004.
However, the overall number of vacancies available across the country dropped marginally, despite rises of 25 per cent in Scotland and 20 per cent in the south-west.