Hiring could return to ‘normal’ by this time next year

Owen Humphreys/PA Archive/PA Images

More than half of employers expect recruitment to return to ‘normal’ pre-Covid-19 levels by this time next year.

According to ManpowerGroup, 57% of organisations expect normal hiring levels to resume in early 2021, despite the recruitment firm publishing its weakest Employer Outlook Survey results since the survey began in 1992.

Employers in most sectors report a sharp drop in their intentions to hire new staff in the third quarter of 2020, with an overall net employment outlook score of -12% – indicating that the workforce is expected to contract.

Sector Net Employment Outlook Q3 2020 Percentage of employers reporting at least 50% of business suspended
Transport & Communications -22% 72%
Finance & Business Services -16% 40%
Manufacturing -15% 60%
Construction -13% 66%
Hotels & Retail -12% 72%
Mining -2%
52%

However, Mark Cahill, managing director of ManpowerGroup UK, said the data underlined the resilience of UK employers.

“It is worth reiterating that around three quarters of employers we spoke to expect to retain current staffing levels in the coming quarter and just over half expect to return to pre-Covid-19 hiring levels during the beginning of next year,” he said.

Some sectors plan to increase headcount in Q3 2020 as a result of the challenges the pandemic has brought. The public sector is expecting to boost its workforce by 2%, while hiring intentions in agriculture have soared to +11% from +2% in Q2.

Cahill said: “The public sector – particularly our care homes – and the UK’s agriculture industry are some of the sectors that are most reliant on migrant workers. UK farms need around 90,000 seasonal workers for the April to October harvest. The significant positive hiring intentions in the sector illustrates how employers are desperate to fill this shortfall.”

He also indicated that recruitment had increased for roles that had not existed before the coronavirus pandemic.

“The uniquely difficult circumstances will mean that some of us will do roles that have never existed before and others will never do the same role again. In the past few weeks we have seen thousands of requests globally for roles that have never existed before, such as contact tracers and temperature checkers.”

Almost half of the 1,056 employers polled say 50% or more of their normal business activities have been suspended, rising to 72% among both retail and hospitality and travel and communications firms.

In many cases, the requirement for social distancing in workplaces was driving organisations in many sectors to reduce hiring, said Cahill.

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