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The UK Job Market Outlook Post-Pandemic

It has been a few months now since we had a look at what the UK job market was looking like as the country took its first few steps out of lockdown, where we saw the beginning of a promising increase in job vacancies, but also the beginning of a worrying candidate shortage. As the months have passed and more restrictions have lifted, this candidate shortage is still growing as the number of job vacancies continue to increase as businesses try to meet customer demand.

The final lifting of covid-19 restrictions is now due to take place on July 19th, and the government’s furlough scheme is due to end in September. Just like the pandemic itself had a huge effect on the UK job market, the end of it will undoubtedly have some huge effects on it too.

As we get closer and closer to the end of this turbulent chapter in our lives and back to ‘normal’, we have investigated what the outlook and predictions are for the UK job market post-pandemic.

Part-time workers may be the worst affected when furlough ends.

Despite the current skill shortage in the UK job market, the pandemic is still having a negative impact on part-time employment. Timewise, the flexible working campaigners, have warned that part-time workers will be the ones bearing the brunt of job losses when the furlough scheme comes to an end in September.

Part-time workers have already been disproportionately affected by the pandemic in comparison to their full-time employees. Half of all part-time workers have been furloughed at some point since the scheme was introduced compared to one-third of full-time workers.

They have also been more likely to remain on furlough during periods where restrictions have eased as employers appear to be focusing more on full-time employees. In 2020, 44% of part-time workers who were classified as “away from work” or on furlough during the first lockdown continued to be away between July and September when the restrictions had eased, whereas only about a third of full-time workers were in the same situation.

Employers are not just more focused on their current full-time employees, but they are also more focused on recruiting new full-time employees. An analysis of job advertisements in the UK revealed that just 8% of these job vacancies are advertised as being part-time positions. The pandemic has already caused part-time employment to fall at its fastest rate in the last 30 years. If these worrying trends continue not only could part-time workers experience the most job losses post-furlough, but Timewise’s director Emma Stewart has also warned that they could be “effectively locked out of work”.

Figures also show this is and will continue to disproportionately affect women in the workforce. Women are still more likely to take on part-time jobs as they are easier to fit around childcare responsibilities. While some part-time workers may be able to adapt and take on full-time roles, this is unlikely to be a possibility for working parents, carers etc. that need a part-time job that works around their other life commitments, who are still more commonly women. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show the number of people employed part-time dropped by 900,000 from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. In the same period, the number of women employed part-time fell by 700,000.

Mass job moves could come after the pandemic has eased.

As mentioned before the job market is currently seeing a candidate shortage that is presenting challenges in recruitment across all industries in the UK. The furlough scheme has been succeeding in its job at preventing redundancies that could have driven up the candidate supply, but another factor is that candidates are feeling hesitant about changing jobs while we are still in a pandemic.

However, this hesitation is due to fears of job security and financial security rather than those employees actually feeling satisfied with their current employer. In fact, according to HR News, research conducted by the independent consultancy firm Lane Clark and Peacock revealed that 46% of the UK workforce feel undervalued by their current employer. This suggests that candidates are currently sticking with their current employers purely for security, and that the job market could see mass job moves once the economy has recovered from the pandemic when candidates will feel more confident about the risks of changing jobs.

The main factor that has caused this sentiment is a lack of support from employers during the pandemic. Whether candidates have been on furlough, working from home, or have had to continue working as normal during lockdowns, the pandemic has had a significant impact on their physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. Despite this 56% of employees said they had received little to no communication from their employers to support their wellbeing. How employers have reacted and supported their staff is going to be remembered long before the pandemic is over, and is likely to influence not just employee retention, but also recruitment post-pandemic.

What else will candidates be looking for when they do decide to make the job move? The pandemic has massively influenced candidates’ priorities, and it is likely to continue to do so even after it has ended. One priority that is going to stand the test of time is the candidate’s favouring and seeking a greater work-life balance. The widespread adoption of remote working that took place in March last year has seen a lot of employees, who were likely to have worked long hours pre-covid, gain more leisure time. Naturally, this is something workers are reluctant to let go of as we return to normal and, therefore, as the pandemic eases candidates may look to move to employers who offer work from home or hybrid working options where they feel can retain this better work-life balance.

A survey from HRLock found that 76% of employers are set to continue offering work from home and hybrid working options as company perks once the pandemic is over. However, while employers may see these options as a perk, 90% of employees now see it as a necessity. The working world pre-covid is largely seen as inflexible and unattractive now, and if employers try to move back to this, they may find themselves struggling with not only retaining their current employees but recruiting new ones too.

Some industries may continue to struggle with recruitment more than others.

Some industries may not reap the recruitment benefits of the pandemic easing as much as others. A small handful of industries have managed to thrive during the pandemic, some have sustained themselves, while others have struggled. Industries that have been struggling throughout the pandemic, and where their future viability is uncertain, are likely to continue to face employee retainment and recruitment challenges even after we begin to return to normal.

LCP’s research revealed that 46% of employees do not have confidence in their employer’s viability once the pandemic begins to subside. Industries that are seeing the lowest employee confidence include the arts and entertainment sector, the utility sector, financial services, and real estate, suggesting job moves are more likely to come from industries such as these as they search for work in more “pandemic-proof” industries.

While struggling industries are likely to continue to see come challenges in retainment and recruitment, these “pandemic-proof” industries will have their own, different recruitment challenges, too. These highly sought industries will also see an influx of inexperienced, unqualified candidates that, while maybe eager to learn, may potentially be unsuitable. This has the potential to prolong the recruitment process for these industries due to the extra time it will take to screen and filter through these candidates to find the most suitable ones.

Are you a business in need of staff? Get in touch with Kiwi Recruitment today. You can use our online form to submit a vacancy. Or if you’d like to speak to a member of the team directly, you can email us at [email protected] or give us a call on 01243 782763.

Read more articles and news from Kiwi Recruitment here

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Kiwi RecruitmentThe UK Job Market Outlook Post-Pandemic

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