Posted on 27th January 2021 - INDUSTRY NEWS


In December 2020 there were around 1.77 million active job adverts in the UK, an increase of 10.5% on the previous year. A number of factors, including pent-up demand for staff and an increase in the amount of time that employers are leaving job adverts open for, meant that the total number of job postings was notably higher than before COVID-19 hit the UK. However, these figures also show a clear divide in terms of which sectors and regions have been impacted most strongly by the pandemic.

With case numbers rising and more health restrictions being put in place to stop the virus, it is no surprise to see significantly higher numbers of job postings for health professionals like nurses (+62.7%), care workers (+25.8%) and radiographers (+71.3%) in December 2020 than a year earlier. There were also more adverts for environmental health professionals (+92.7%) as businesses and workplaces must comply with strict social distancing guidelines in order to stay open.

The number of postings for vets was more than double (+108.4%) what it was a year ago, perhaps due to potential changes in changes in food safety and animal welfare standards due to Brexit, and the number of people in the profession who come to the UK from the EU.

Skilled trades such as bricklayers (+92.9%), glaziers (+71.6%) and carpenters (+41.5%) also saw higher numbers of job adverts as construction sites remained open and home improvements could still take place. Delays to construction projects from earlier in 2020 may be pushing up posting numbers, as well as the effect of Brexit and restrictions on the right to work in the UK under the new immigration system.

The hospitality and leisure industries continued to be hit hard by the health restrictions. Among the occupations with the biggest drops in job posting numbers compared to the previous year were bar staff (-69.9%), travel agents (-58.9%), chefs (-58.2%), beauticians (-52.9%) and sports and leisure assistants (-49.8%). While the vaccine rollout brings some hope, it could be some time before recruitment activity returns to normal in these industries.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said: "There is a great deal of underlying strength in the jobs market, despite the tough economic circumstances of the current lockdown. The potential for a strong bounce-back after the vaccination programme is rolled out is there. Jobs are still being created all over the country. But it is no surprise that some sectors and regions like health, social care and construction are in the lead, while others, particularly hospitality and particularly London, are in desperate need of support.

Matthew Mee, Director, Workforce Intelligence at Emsi, said: "What seems apparent in our current data is that lockdown 3.0 is having a less dramatic impact on UK hiring activity than we saw in 2020. Whilst there are some sectors of the economy that are lagging, others are hiring aggressively and there appears to be greater business confidence, very likely linked to the ongoing vaccine roll-out. It's interesting to note the year-on-year increase in demand for temporary and contract roles - which is up 26% compared to this time last year.

"Obviously with the Brexit deal being done and the new points-based immigration system now in place, it will be critical to monitor how this impacts hiring activity in the months ahead. Recruitment marketing activity will be a useful lead indicator of whether employers are successfully finding and mobilising the talent and skills they need."

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