The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – UK Jobs Outlook

Every month we eagerly await the KMPG and REC report on jobs outlook for the UK. But not just because we are a recruitment consultancy, but because the figures are a good indicator of economic recovery. This month’s report at a glance would have you believe that we are very close to getting back to where we were pre-pandemic, but a deeper look through and all is not quite as rosy as it we would hope.

In the spirit of whipping off our rose-tinted spectacles and being open and honest about the jobs outlook, we took a look at The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly…

The Good

That said, there is some very good news to report and that is that hiring activity has moved closer to stabilisation and both permanent and temporary placements are back to pre-Covid levels. In fact, permanent placements were the strongest they have been for two years and temporary placements expanded at the quickest rate since 2018. Vacancies also saw an increase in September with a renewed rise in demand for both permanent and temporary staff and now stands at 50.6; just above the neutral position of 50.

IT and Computing still remains the most in-demand skill when it comes to permanent placements and there has been a sharp rise in the number of vacancies in this sector. That said, there are many sectors where we are seeing a skills shortage and this is an area anyone should be focusing on if they are going to take advantage of any government training initiatives. Accounting, Digital Marketing, Business Development and Cyber Security are all growth areas in the UK, so worth taking a closer look at what training incentives there are available.

The Bad

Although permanent placements saw an increase to 50.6 in September and temporary placements stood at 54.3 (across both private and public businesses), historically, the actual figures are still low. On an annual basis, vacancies were down -46.9% in the three months to August. Although we should see an increase here in the last quarter of the year, there is still a long way to go before we are back at pre-Covid levels.

The total candidate availability has continued to rise at a substantial pace, despite a slight easing off in August. No doubt this is due to the increase in redundancies which has the potential to worsen as we reach the end of Furlough. Even though the demand for staff has risen, it is no match for the numbers that are currently actively seeking work.

The knock-on effect of rising candidate availability means that there has been a fall in starting salaries based on supply/demand factors and business’s budgetary constraints. There is still the need to exercise caution with the purse strings as we know that we have many ‘unknowns’ yet to face.

The Ugly

OK, no one was in a rush to think about this section, but one thing the past 7 months have taught us is that there are no ‘certainties’ with this pandemic. Just as we had started to get on our feet, the ‘second wave’ was upon us and how this part of the virus is going to pan out is anyone’s guess. Will we have another national lockdown? Will there be ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdowns? Which areas could drop into Tier Three? Even a crystal ball would probably struggle here and that is the real Ugly part of this report. We know that Furlough is ending and the new Job Retention Scheme kicks in in November, but how this will affect businesses is as yet an unknown. We also know that there are many businesses that despite having kept afloat since March, are having to start looking at survival measures.

The ugly truth is that try as we might, the virus is controlling us and dictating our destiny to a certain extent. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. We have seen many of our clients adapt their businesses to not just cope with the pandemic, but flourish. This is where all our soft skills have truly paid off. Creativity, flexibility and adaptability is the name of the game and the UK is embracing this like there is no tomorrow. So, in summary, the future may look uncertain but now is the time for everyone to take control of their destiny and use every single resource out there to turn Covid into a positive.

As always, the Amdas team are here to offer help and advice to both clients and candidates, so please get in touch. info@Amdas.co.uk