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One year in lockdown

Published: Tuesday 23rd March 2021

Today marks one year in lockdown. However, the effects of lockdown will continue to be felt for many years. The UK recruitment is no different. Lockdown has caused significant disruption in recruitment. This includes everything from increased demand for work, to skills shortages in specific sectors. Both hirers and job seekers are changing their requirements. Furthermore, remote working is predicted to cause real long-term change in employment. Therefore, we look at some of the biggest highs and lows in UK recruitment after one year in lockdown.

National Day of Reflection - 23 March 2021

Adaptability is strong

UK companies in every sector were forced to quickly adapt to remote working. This was of course impossible for many, including those in hospitality and high street retail. However, many  companies that presumed they could not work remotely have seen that in fact they can. This forced move has therefore opened the eyes of many businesses. Benefits to employers include renewed trust in employees. Furthermore, many are now rethinking the need for large, expensive inner-city offices. This has already been seen among some of the biggest finance companies in London.

Some companies are now considering permanent remote working options. This is in part thanks to productivity levels remaining the same. Such benefits have also been noticed by employees. Saving money and time on commuting, employees can now prove that their roles can be performed remotely. Another area that has seen positive change is that of skills retraining. A recent study revealed 59% of people would consider retraining and reskilling in a new job. Such high numbers are a direct reflection of the uncertainty caused by the lockdown. A more skilled and flexible workforce is of course a good thing for the UK. As is the fact that more people are now taking more control over their careers.

Empty high street to highlight one year in lockdown

One year in lockdown – the very deep lows

The lockdown has had a devastating effect on recruitment in the UK and around the world. Latest predictions suggest 6.5% of the UK workforce could be out of work by the end of 2021. This is 1.7 million people and the highest for five years. Sectors such as hospitality and high street retail have seen jobs slashed. As such, young people have been hit particularly hard. It is estimated that nearly 2/3 of all jobs lost during the lockdown as been among the under 25s.

Recruitment has swung from being job seeker led to hirer led. This has been seen horror stories such as hundreds of applicants apply for a waiter role. Whilst many new jobs have appeared in areas such as mental health and e-commerce, the uptake has not been enough. It is perhaps no surprise to learn that lockdown jobs near me continues to be a popular job seeker search.

Three wooden blocks with question marks on them on top of each other to highlight one year in lockdown

This new candidate-rich landscape is good news for hirers. However, this is only expected to be short-term. Many are predicting job seekers to be much more pick in the future as things return to normal. A recent white paper released by Zoek showed that 96% of job seekers would not consider working for a company with a poor lockdown record. Furthermore, the increasing demand for lockdown jobs online is also going to cause some sectors growing recruitment issues. Industries such as construction and warehousing are already reporting staffing shortages in specific skills. Companies unable to offer home working or flexi-time opportunities may struggle to find quality candidates in the future.

UK recruitment post lockdown

The real effects of lockdown on UK recruitment are yet to be seen. Twelve months on, many things are still uncertain. The vaccine rollout and government roadmap have given confidence. However, continued uncertainty regarding new strains, Brexit and the end of furlough still make predictions difficult. As such, the UK recruitment landscape is likely to remain uncertain for at least the rest of 2021. Increased retraining, changing job seeker sentiment and an increased switch to remote working are all likely to be long-term effects of the lockdown. Many UK companies have shown they can adapt quickly to adversity. The next challenge is perhaps adapting to such changes long-term.

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