Marginal Fall

Jobs in Southern England drop year-on-year, but impending lockdown may stall progress

Hiring across the South of England showed signs of a comeback in September, with vacancies falling just 13% year-on-year, a far cry from the 73% drop witnessed between April and May when the first lockdown took place.  However, with a second national lockdown days away, it remains to be seen how well the region will fare over the coming weeks. That’s according to new research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), the trade association for the recruitment sector.

TMT and Pharmaceutical sectors drive vacancy recovery

The data, provided by business intelligence specialist Vacancysoft, revealed that despite on-going economic uncertainty, the South saw a marked increase in recruitment in September across several sectors. The TMT arena, which accounted for 17.5% of all professional vacancies in 2019, has risen to 18.2% this year and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Healthcare & Pharmaceutical sector has remained relatively buoyant with vacancies down just 15% year-on-year.  In stark contrast, Professional Services recruitment has dropped by 50% which can be attributed, in part, to many support roles being furloughed and entry level hiring frozen. Similarly, the Financial Services sector has seen a significant drop-in activity, with vacancies down 39% year-on-year.

Kier Group most active employer in the region

When analysing the top companies recruiting across the region, eight out of the top twenty are in Real Estate & Construction, with Kier Group leading the table. The construction giant posted just 6% fewer roles year-on-year and with its involvement in large scale projects such as the Luton Airport rail link and Hinckley point C it is perhaps unsurprising to see it leading the top employer list.

Ann Swain, CEO at APSCo comments:

“It is certainly encouraging to see professional vacancy numbers pick up in September across the South, however with Boris Johnson plunging England into a second national lockdown from Thursday, it remains to be seen what impact this has on the professional recruitment sector in the lead up to 2021. However, with the furlough scheme now being extended and many companies able to much better facilitate remote working and operate business as usual, we don’t anticipate seeing the same impact on vacancy levels as those witnessed in March and April.”

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