KPMG/REC Jobs Outlook Report – November 2020

There’s nothing surprising when we look at the available data for November regarding the state of the jobs market in the UK. Much of what is occurring is summed up in three key points:

  • A modest but notable reduction in permanent placements – as we’d expected due to Lockdown 2.0 and the re-implementation of the tier system subsequently
  • Temporary job demand by employers continues to rise sharply – as we expected in the climate of uncertainty and on the back of permanent jobs falling
  • Increased numbers of candidates – as we expected due to the number of redundancies occurring before, and since, the reintroduction of the furlough scheme

The end of a tough year in the jobs market
We cannot escape the fact that this whole year has been turbulent and difficult for everyone in the jobs market. As we headed into November, this was compounded by the second lockdown.

However, whilst there are no unexpected negative surprises in the latest data revealed in the REC’s Report on Jobs, there is a slight glimmer of optimism.

Firstly, the data was anticipated to be worse than it is in reality. Whilst there are drops in the number of permanent roles available, those drops are ‘modest’ and not as sharp as initially anticipated.

Secondly, as has been the case throughout the pandemic, the UK job market is demonstrating its resilience by utilising temporary workers to keep businesses going. There are temping roles widely available, with particular demand for jobs in IT and computing.

Thirdly, there is genuine excitement and positivity regarding the roll out of the mass vaccination programme, which is giving everyone hope of life returning to a greater degree of normal soon.

A combined outlook for a New Year
Ultimately, all of these factors are combining to create a realistic impression of how things aren’t easy now, but how we are primed to recover quickly. We need to remain realistic that the start of 2021 will likely see waves of tightening and loosening restrictions, which each time will impact hiring decisions. But we also have clear room for optimism concerning brighter times ahead for employers and candidates.

We also need to be aware, that at the time of going to press, there’s still uncertainty regarding the trade arrangements for Brexit. This of course is more uncertainty, and will have some impact on hiring decisions over the next few months.

As we stand, the picture is relatively uniform across the UK with only minimal variations between regions compared with normal.

The months ahead for candidates
The data in the REC Report on Jobs reflects our own experiences on the ground interacting with candidates. Many employers are currently putting off hiring decisions until January and beyond. They are therefore turning to temporary workers to meet their needs. There is notable demand for temps and those who find themselves out of work due to redundancies would do well to realise this is where opportunities lie.

Candidates also need to be aware that in this climate, the data is revealing that starting salaries are currently subdued. Again, this is to be expected.

The good news is that, overall, there is some small growth in earnings across the UK, which is remarkable given the situation. The subdued starting rates are also considerably less notable for temporary staff.

It’s time to be cautiously optimistic
Whilst the November data in the Report on Jobs doesn’t reveal any surprises, it does give us room for hope.

The data is also testimony to the strength of the UK and its flexibility at times of disruption. It is now time to continue to weather the storm over the winter months, but remain optimistic for the not-too-distant future.

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