There are initial signs that recruitment activity is beginning to recover, driven by increasing demand for staff in the hospitality sector in particular.
In the week of 22-28 June, there were 990,000 unique job postings in the UK, up from 963,000 in the first week of last month, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).
In the same week there were 92,000 new jobs postings, although this is significantly lower than the 112,000 new postings reported between 1-7 June.
Covid-19 impact on recruitment
Meanwhile, UK job board directory WhatMedia reported a 56% increase in total searches and a 43% increase in the number of recruitment professionals logging in to its platform between May and June. Keyword searches alone increased by 63%.
It appeared that employers in the hospitality sector went on a hiring spree ahead of pubs, bars and restaurants reopening over the weekend. According to the REC’s weekly Jobs Recovery Tracker there was a 57% rise in the number of active job postings for bar staff and a 63% increase in postings for waiting staff between the weeks of 1-7 June and 22-28 June – although the number of job advertisements was still down on pre-lockdown levels.
Numerous other occupations also saw an increase in recruitment as more areas of the economy began to reopen: there was a 21% increase in glazer postings; a 2.1% increase in postings for barbers and hairdressers; and a 9.3% rise in job openings in some school support roles including crossing patrols and break time supervisors.
“The effects of easing the lockdown are clearly reflected in jobs postings data. While many hospitality and construction firms will start by taking staff off furlough, the market for new jobs in these sectors is starting to improve from the record lows of the past few months,” said REC chief executive Neil Carberry.
However, Carberry noted that the recruitment activity would only accelerate when consumer and business confidence returned, and called for the chancellor Rishi Sunak to lower National Insurance contributions and invest in skills development to assist with organisations’ recovery.
There was still a significant lull in recruitment activity in some occupations, including security guards (down 10% between the weeks beginning 15 and 22 June); cleaners (down 2.5%); and sales and retail assistants (down 1%).
There had also been a decline in health and social care recruitment activity, perhaps due to the increased hiring seen earlier in the year when the coronavirus pandemic was at its peak.
Local hiring hotspots for the second half of June included Mid Lancashire (an increase of 9.6%), Luton (9.3%) and Dumfries & Galloway (7.6%), according to the REC.
Meanwhile, research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) found the hiring of professionals had declined dramatically in the first five months of this year.
Its analysis of data provided by Vacancysoft showed a 36.9% drop in London hiring in January-May 2020, compared with the equivalent period last year, as well as a 48.4% decrease in professional recruitment across England and Wales.
APSCo CEO Ann Swain said: “The drop in professional vacancies is to be expected given the challenges that Covid-19 has presented. The biggest question now is how quickly demand will pick up. And with the government’s furlough support reducing from August, there is the potential for further uncertainty.
“However, with the Mayor of London revealing at the end of June that the Greater London Investment Fund is now an accredited lender under the British Business Bank Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), there appears to be further stability for at least some of London’s businesses.”