Vacancies Tumble

A third of the UK’s professional vacancies lost in 2020 due to pandemic

Professional hiring across England and Wales decreased by a third (33%) in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc across the globe, but some sectors have remained resilient. That’s according to new research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), the trade association for the professional recruitment sector.

Hiring in London tumbles

The data, provided by business intelligence specialist Vacancysoft, revealed that hiring in London tumbled last year, down 32.3% annually. The statistics also highlighted that the capital’s share of vacancy numbers has dropped two percentage points since 2018, a decline which could continue in a post-Covid environment if the Prime Minsters ‘levelling up’ agenda continues to be rolled out. With Boris Johnson pushing for a greater distribution of the UK’s employment market outside of the Capital, professional vacancy numbers in London could continue on a downward trend.

IT, health and life sciences remain resilient

While the data revealed that a number of sectors were severely impacted last year – with numbers down 40.1% and 39.1% respectively for marketing and sales roles – some professions remained relatively resilient. With a significant number of businesses across England and Wales continuing to operate remotely, it’s perhaps no surprise that jobs in IT surged at various points throughout the year. In the first few months of Q4, IT vacancies were up year-on-year, with November’s numbers increasing 9.9% in 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019.

As the UK scrambled for a vaccine, hiring across life sciences has also remained buoyant, up 2.7% year-on-year. And while overall numbers across healthcare dropped slightly (down 3.6% when compared to 2019 figures), it was one of the sectors to note a smaller impact due to the demand for front-line professionals to tackle the pandemic.

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo comments:

“As we entered 2020, many economic experts had last year firmly positioned as the year which would be dominated by Brexit. No one could have predicted that as the year drew to a close, we were not only still battling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but were also wondering right until the 11th hour whether a Brexit deal would be struck. And as a result of the huge challenges that the coronavirus has had on the professional recruitment market, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see that vacancies have reduced heavily throughout the UK when compared to 2019.”

“Despite this, however, it is by no means all doom and gloom. While some sectors have been hit particularly hard by national and local lockdowns – most notably consumer goods and services, for example – others such as health and life sciences have remained resilient and reported strong growth. As 2020 drew to a close amid stricter Tier 4 restrictions for much of the country, it remains to be seen how this will affect future professional recruitment activity. However, we are cautiously optimistic that the worst is behind us and that the mass vaccination programme will help some sense of normality return towards the middle of 2021.”

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