November graduate opportunities: How the labour market is faring

Posted in: Career Choice, Labour Market Intelligence

 At the start of October we gave you a bit of an update on how the labour market is looking.  

It hasn’t been that long, but things are changing all the time.  Since October we’ve entered a second lockdown, we’ve seen an extension to the furlough scheme and hopeful vaccine news. We recently attended an excellent webinar hosted by Charlie Ball at Prospects Luminate giving a rundown on current labour market trends. So we thought it was timely to provide an additional update.  

It is important to remember that opportunities are availableAs some sectors are faring better than others, the key to success is being flexible and keeping your options open, especially if your interests lie in areas that have been badly affected by the pandemic.  

How are things looking? 

Well, things aren’t back to normal, but the trend is upwards! There is a consensus that the past three months have gone better than expected economically and for the labour market. The economy is improving but PwC estimates that the end of 2021 is the very earliest that we’ll be back to pre-pandemic (Feb 2020) levels.  

Job vacancies are about 70% of normal rates but this is very sector dependent. The Arts is running at around 30-35% of where it would be normally. Whereas the Health sector is not seeing a huge difference. 

With that said, generally graduate opportunities have been less impacted than non-graduate roles. Additionally, graduate training schemes seem to have been hit less than the rest of the graduate labour market, as these are run by larger companies which have been hit less hard by the pandemicCertainly, we are seeing plenty of graduate schemes being advertised on MyFuture. Make sure to check if there are any graduate schemes you’d like to apply for as deadlines are fast approaching for many of them. 

How have different sectors been impacted? 

 We don’t know for sure how the second lockdown will affect the labour market, however the signal from employers at the moment is that it may not have as big an impact as the first one. Employers are more confident this time around and have adapted quicker 

Health, social care, IT and education have continued to do well. The Public Sector is generally faring well and areas of the non-profit sector which are supporting the pandemic relief efforts are also seeing an upwards trend. These sectors all tend to have graduate opportunities. Health has the largest number of vacancies of any UK industry with one in eight of all current vacancies.  

There are also signs of improvement in marketing, IT, audit, insolvency, employment law, pharma and medical. Some of these sectors are indicative of the challenges facing the economy, such as insolvency and employment law. These are also areas where remote working is effective, which are recovering more rapidly compared to areas where remote working isn’t possible. 

Remember that medical isn’t just doctors and nurses. It encompasses medical testing, medical devices and test and trace efforts, and some vacancies are open to applicants from any degree background 

Unfortunately, as with last update, the SME sector is still struggling due to lack of reserves, although this is also sector–dependent. 

What will the future look like? 

The pandemic has created huge disruption to the world of work. It has accelerated some existing trends and created new issues too. But there are other issues that will also influence future labour market trends. The change of US president and Brexit will also ultimately have an impact too and it will be interesting to see how the next few months will impact the labour market 

Looking ahead to the future, predictions are that jobs in health and social care will thrive. Due to the mental health effect of the pandemic it is predicted that there will be an increase in mental health and wellbeing roles.  

There will also be a huge increase in employment related to low carbon industries. That doesn’t just mean engineers, but all the parts needed to sustain the new infrastructure to assure the transition away from fossil fuels. As before the pandemic, STEM is predicted to have the highest labour market growth in Europe. Again, it is important to remember that STEM companies also recruit graduates into operations and administrative roles such as business management, marketing, HR and more. 

Digital skills, critical thinking, interpersonal communication and leadership are all skills that will become more important in the coming months and years.  

The Future of Home-working 

The majority of workers in key graduate sectors, such as professional services,  are now home-based and that could be a long-term change. A lot of businesses that employ graduates are reporting that homeworking has either had no effect on or improved productivity. We are seeing employers considering home-working and flexible working as something that increase employee wellbeing and decrease office running costs.  It is likely there will be a shift to greater home working in the future. Therefore any skills you acquire from virtual working from your internships or placements will be valuable skills to emphasize in your job applications 

Final thought

While things are still not back to normal - there are graduate opportunities out there. We hope to see a continued upwards trend and will bring you another labour market update when we can.  In the meantime, if you need help with any stage of your career planning, find us on MyFuture. 

Source for labour market data and trends: Prospects Luminate 

Posted in: Career Choice, Labour Market Intelligence


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  • Thanks for the kind words Rebecca, we understand how hard it is for students to get decent information right now and are trying to do our bit.

    One of the tricky things we're still trying to work out is how we can get a decent view of specific regions; what is happening in Bath with be different to what's happening in Birmingham, Bolton or Billericay - but some of the essential characteristics will be the same. The shift to greater remote working is probably the biggie and it means that students who have adapted to online learning might find remote working easier to deal with than some of us old fogies who are have spent years in the office. We'll keep on trying to keep track of it all for you (although this week is a bit of a quiet one as it happens), so keep reading and we will do our best to give you and your students an honest view of what's going on out there.

    • Thanks so much Charlie - your updates have been invaluable to us at Bath and will be interesting to hear more about regional insights! - Rebecca