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On The Road To Recovery

The ONS published their initial findings and figures into the recovery of the UK jobs market – following the double blow of Brexit and the global COVID-19 pandemic. Figures show employees on payroll climbing to pre-pandemic levels for the first time since its onset, and vacancies topping 1 million – for the first time since records began.

Our own market insights show a similar trend – with some sectors recovering faster than others, and those most agile to a changing world performing best.

Payroll Completes Recovery

The number of employees on payroll reached 29.1 million, recovering to figures last seen in February 2021, lifting employment in all but a few regions.

The regions slower to recover are London and the South East of England – who have suffered a noticeable hit in the hospitality sector, as hotels, pubs and restaurants struggle to recover from 18 months of disruption. Similarly, Scotland has seen a slower than average recovery in terms of employment – as their economy opens up a month or two behind the rest of the union.

Certainly, our own insights show this pattern, and we forecast a significant uplift in the fortunes of the Scottish economy as it unlocks over the coming months.

Vacancy Abundance

For the first time since records began, there have been over 1 million open vacancies posted in a single month. The REC goes a step further, reporting that 1.6 million jobs were posted through August.

Analysts are quick to highlight the perfect storm generated by the unprecedented economic shutdowns due to the global pandemic and a lack of available labour from Brexit. The inability to move labour from region to region has led to skill-shortages and open vacancies across the UK – with almost every sector negatively affected.

As the hospitality sector continues to recover, we anticipate vacancies to grow for jobs in hotels and restaurants until we see a stabilisation.

Boom Sectors

From our own analysis of the hundreds of recruitment businesses we support, we can easily identify the sectors which are booming, and in some cases, carrying, our industry’s recovery.

We’ve seen billings in Engineering and Technical, Commercial and Accounting and Finance lead the way in terms of overall billings – with some sectors (unsurprisingly, Medical) showing an appetite for some incredible fees.

We’ve seen a gradual improvement, month on month over the last six months, in terms of overall billings across all sectors – and are expecting September to continue with that trend.

Future Outlook

The end of September marks the end of the government supported furlough scheme – which promises to inject a little more chaos into our industry.

It’s predicted that this will lead to a rebalancing between the record-highs in employees on payroll and available vacancies – and it’s hoped that some fresh talent will enter into the market as the furlough scheme winds down.

It’ll certainly be fascinating to see how it all plays out.

We’ll be taking a fresh look at things in September, to compare this initial findings of the ONS and our own industry insights.