A Look at The Labour Market

Posted 29th Jan 2021

2020 was, needless to say really, a tough year in so many ways, health wise obviously, mental health wise, financially and of course career and or employment wise. As with a lot of things though, the Labour Market has it's winners and losers...statistically speaking anyway.

When it comes to the actual number of job vacancies being advertised across the UK, Scotland and the north of England certainly saw the greater upturn in available posts, but nationally speaking Q4 of last year saw a rise of almost 20% against Q3, in a year which, due to the pandemic, witnessed advertised vacancies plummet through Q2 (at the time of the first lockdown) and then start to rise again in Q3 when it was lifted and a little confidence was restored. That said, and not entirely surprisingly, the number of vacant positions being promoted in the final three months of 2020 were almost 20% lower than the same period in 2019. Sector wise, Distribution again (as it saw an increase in excess of 250% in Q3!) witnessed a rise of over 50% in terms of sheer available, advertised, job numbers and to a lesser extend (just over 10%) so did Leisure & Tourism interesting enough. All of that said, December, with the announcement of the second, more or less national, lockdown then brought a sharp decline on advertised job roles across the board.

What about applications to the afore mentioned advertised vacancies though?...these did of course also drop quite dramatically in the final stages of last year and are somewhat down against the same time in 2019, though year on year the numbers are, encouragingly, not to dissimilar. Not surprisingly though there was, and still is, a greater number of applicants per post on offer, overall 10% up on 2019. The final three months of 2020 saw applications per available vacancy increase massively (some 90%) for the Retail and Marketing sectors and in turn decrease significantly for, of note, the Public Sector and interestingly Distribution which, while seeing an increase in vacant jobs as noted above, saw a heavy decrease in Q4 regarding the average number of applicants for each of those jobs.

So Q1 2021, and I’m probably stating the obvious, is set to be a tough quarter for the economy. For the job seeker there are still many job vacancies out there, but yes challenges to be faced in terms of greater competition per vacancy and perhaps even more so for those being forced to switch careers and transition accordingly. There is help available though. For the hirer there may at times be, seemingly anyway, a greater pool of candidates to select from in general, but in practise this isn’t always necessarily the case. Some of those in secure employment, but considering a move, perhaps holding fire for now and until some form of normality finally returns and subsequently their confidence with it.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though and so let’s end on an optimistic note. The nationwide roll out of vaccination is well under way and as a nation it appears we’re delivering it reasonably rapidly. The UK jobs market is increasing its resilience and although in the middle of a third lockdown, we have the, though dubious, benefit of having been there before and so hopefully having also learnt lessons accordingly. Ambition is greater than ever, new opportunities are ever present, and will increase as we exit the winter…and we will bounce back.

Photo by Charles Koh on Unsplash

Recent blogs