Whether we were in Covid times or not, we would not be expecting to report a buoyant jobs market in November because traditionally, businesses are starting to wind down in the run-up to Christmas. So yes, you have guessed it, hiring saw a decline in November compared to data in October, but the upside to that is it was not even by a point. In October, the permanent hires in the UK stood at 48.8 whilst in November they had dropped slightly to 48.2.
Now we don’t want to start getting the pom poms out just yet. There are still many hurdles in our way but news that we are starting to roll out vaccines across the UK has had a positive effect on business in general. While we know that we will still have to cope with a Tier system, social distancing measures and our departure from the EU at the end of 2020, there is every reason for us to be looking ahead with optimism to 2021.
Permanent Vs Temporary Hires
As we mentioned above, permanent places saw a small fall to 48.2, but for the fourth month in a row, temporary placements were increasing and while we should be cautiously optimistic about these figures, there is still the anticipation that many of these temporary placements could well become permanent fixtures next year. What should be noted is that permanent placements increased in November in both London and the South East which resulted in a slight drop in temporary placements in the Capital.
Has demand for staff changed?
Again, at this time of year, there is nothing unusual in a drop off in companies that are hiring, and 2020 is no exception. What is hard to say is whether the time of year or the Covid conditions are driving this drop-off. Our guess is that there is a bit of both factors coming into play here. The total number of vacancies fell from 47.9 in October to 47 in November. What we also need to be mindful of when looking at the figures for November is that we commenced our second National Lockdown on 5th November, and this could be a driving factor behind this slight decrease. Growth in demand for short term or temporary staff remained strong in November at 52.7 compared to 53 in October.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that vacancies whilst lower than pre-Covid, continue to steadily increase from the nadir seen in the three months to June (343,000) rising to 525,000 in the latest survey.
Which sectors are employing?
IT is still the front runner, and this is something that has not changed since the start of the pandemic. Tech skills are still in short supply and we strongly advocate that candidates start to look at how they can learn new digital skills remotely to boost their career opportunities in 2021. As you can imagine, the leisure and hospitality sectors have been the most affected during this pandemic and hiring in these sectors is still in trouble across both permanent and temporary placements.
The cherry on the top?
Whilst it is a very small cherry, 2020 has taught us, if nothing else, that optimism pays dividends. If there is a glimmer of good news, we will seize it! ONS reported that employee earnings rose 1.3% on an annual basis in the three months to September, contrasting with broadly stable earnings over the previous three-month period when pay increased just 0.1%. We did say it was small, but it is positive none the less.
Overall, 2020 has not been a great year. But there is a glimmer of light on the horizon. Whilst we may not be there quite yet with the jobs market, the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine and the peer review of the AstraZeneca vaccine saying that it is safe and effective means that we should have better times to come in 2021.