With recruiters' support, things are starting looking up in 2021

2020 has been a very difficult one in the jobs markets...

2020 has been a very difficult one in the jobs markets and that has been compounded during the last month, with England sat in a second lockdown and more health restrictions in place in the devolved nations. However, we also had some positive news that should give everyone some encouragement for the year to come, despite what the data tells us about the situation leading up to October.

Ongoing challenges


The REC’s latest JobsOutlook report showed employer confidence declining again in the three months to October, after starting to recover over the preceding quarter. The improvements in hiring intentions for permanent staff also stalled as COVID case numbers rose and England headed towards its second lockdown. Business began to turn more towards temporary staff for support, and this month’s Report on Jobs figures show that trend continuing through November.

This rollercoaster of easing and tightening restrictions, and the uncertainty about what will happen next, makes workforce planning incredibly difficult for employers. Of course, public health must be the top priority, and restrictions on people’s activity will help to control the spread of the virus. But not knowing what level of restriction they will be under from month to month is very disruptive for business planning.

Then we have the effect of Brexit on top of that. At time of writing, the EU and UK negotiating teams have still not agreed a deal that would facilitate trade across the border, either in terms of goods or services. With less than a month to go until 2021, firms have essentially no time to prepare.

Moving in a positive direction

The news that a number of vaccines will be on the way in the first half of 2021 is sure to boost confidence levels for both business and consumers. There is now a feeling that the end of the pandemic is in sight – but it could be months before a vaccine is rolled out to even the most vulnerable people. We will have to temper our expectations for a while yet.

The Chancellor’s announcements in the Spending Review are welcome, particularly the money for the Restart Scheme and skills investment. These measures should help more people into work. But they will need the help of the real jobs experts – recruiters. The REC is already working with government to support businesses and workers, but an even closer partnership would allow jobseekers to access the real expertise that recruiters have, and make these schemes even more effective.

The success, or failure, of all of these factors will have an effect on employers’ confidence and planning, and their ability to hire new staff. We don’t know what the outcome will be yet – but there are signs that we are moving in a positive direction. Whatever 2021 brings, the recruitment industry will be there to support workers, businesses and the economy – as we always do.


Article from REC (Recruitment & Employment Confederation)