Jobs Outlook for February 2021

While we have all endured what has been a tough winter, there seems to be a glimmer of hope in the air with the new green appearing on the trees, daffodils poking their yellow sunny heads up and of course, almost 25million people in the UK having received a Covid jab.

So there is much to look forward to, but before we do, we need to look back to what was happening with the jobs market in February. The first thing we need to remember is that by the end of February, we were approaching the third month of lockdown and the much-anticipated budget was beckoning with question marks hanging over the future of the furlough scheme and what the tax implications were going to be for businesses.

Permanent Placements:

It seems that many businesses were hanging on for the Chancellor’s announcements before committing to long term future planning and this undoubtedly had an impact on vacancies as we saw demand for permanent workers stabilise, but still sitting below the 50.0 mark which indicates growth. Permanent vacancies are sitting at 49.7 on the index, so here we are on the cusp of that neutral 50.0 mark.

Temporary Placements:

For the seventh consecutive month, temporary and contract placements saw a rise with the Billings Index posting above the neutral 50.0 mark and vacancies rising again to 53.0. Demand for contract workers is slowing slightly though but is fairly evenly spread across both public and private sectors.

Data from the ONS showed that vacancies were up in the three months to January at 599,000 compared to 590,000 in the preceding three-month period.

 Which sectors are hiring?

The sectors that are hiring has not changed with IT, Engineering and Accounting/Finance showing the most demand for skilled workers across permanent placements. Nursing and Blue Collar workers are most in-demand for temporary positions and sadly, Hotel and Catering is where the lowest levels of demand lie.

Availability of Candidates

The availability of workers rose marginally in February to above the 50.0 level which is the weakest upturn in candidate availability since the current sequence of expansion began in April 2020. The availability of candidates across permanent roles appeared to have stabilised while there was a slight rise in the availability of candidates for temporary positions.

While there is still a long way to go rebuild confidence in the UK jobs market, with the Covid roadmap to recovery firmly in place, the success of the UK vaccine rollout programme and some welcome announcements in the Budget, there is a reason for optimism for the UK’s future workforce.