If someone had told us a year ago that the employment market would completely turn on its head and that we would be experiencing the worst skills shortage since the ’90s, I would have been sceptical.
The latest figures published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that the UK job market is bouncing back with new vacancies topping one million in the month of July.
Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “The world of work continues to rebound robustly from the effects of the pandemic.”
However, demand for candidates across all sectors and job families is increasingly high. According to a survey conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce, 70% of companies who have tried to recruit staff in the three months to June 2021 have struggled.
Employers have had to rethink their offering. According to a recent survey conducted by KPMG and REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation), it shows an average increase of £4k in starting annual salaries in a bid to entice candidates.
Speaking to job seekers across a variety of professions, we find that many have a fear of the uncertainty that is synonymous with the pandemic. Many questions remain unanswered, and for people making important decisions about their careers and livelihoods, it’s safer to stick with what you know.
Furthermore, candidates are increasingly put off from applying to positions that appear to have below-market standard conditions and lower pay. As a result, candidates are being very selective.
The pandemic has impacted job seeker’s expectations, too, with a hybrid working model (office and remote) as increasingly being an expectation. A survey commissioned by the UK’s largest office marketplace platform, HubbleHQ, found that from a thousand participants, 86% wanted to work from home at least once a week. 61% admitted that their views on working remotely had changed with benefits ranging from financial savings as well as a better work/ life balance.
Only 15% of office workers surveyed wanted to work from home full time, though.
74% said that the office environment remains important, especially for collaborative working, meetings, team culture and real-life social interaction.
With many organisations yet to make any hard and fast decisions on what their offer of remote/flexible working looks like, candidates are further hesitant about making that move.
1.5 million workers remain on the government-backed furlough scheme, which ends at the close of September – will this make a difference? One would certainly hope so.
And how can we forget Brexit?
An estimated 1.3 million non-UK workers have left the country during the pandemic resulting in substantial recruitment challenges for businesses who depend on hiring foreign workers for lower-paid roles.
Any other effects following our exit from the EU are yet unclear.
We all look forward to the 30th of September – with the end of the furlough scheme, let’s hope to see the much-needed buoyancy in the candidate market.