February update: How the labour market is faring during lockdown three

Posted in: Graduate Jobs, Labour Market Intelligence

At the start of February we gave an update on what we could look forward to in 2021 in terms of job opportunities 

We recently attended another excellent webinar hosted by Charlie Ball and Laura Greaves from Prospects Luminate who shared the latest updates on how the labour market is faring. While we’re still in lockdown, with the vaccine rollout continuing and a roadmap announced – there is much to be positive about. So, what does this mean for graduate jobs? 

What is happening right now 

There are substantially fewer vacancies than there were last year. Vacancy rates are running at about 65-80% of normal. However, comparing this quarter (November 2020 to January 2021) to the previous quarter, we are seeing an increase in vacancies. The labour market is slowly improving but not back to where they were before the pandemic. Most businesses are not confident that we will see a marked improvement before late Spring. 

The latest lockdown has impacted on vacancies but not as dramatically as at the start of the pandemic. The sectors and job opportunities that have been most affected by the pandemic have remained consistent since the first lockdown. Despite the lockdown, things are looking up. In fact, CIPD reported that 56% of employers are looking to recruit at the start of 2021.  

Sectors like healthcare, finance and insurance, education and information and communication are continuing to hire as they have seen increase in demand or have been able to switch to remote working. The biggest improvements in job postings  most recently have been in construction, loading/stocking, manufacturing, logistic support and security and public safety.  

The impact on job opportunities is not consistent across the country. London has been the hardest hit of all regions – this is a trend seen across capital cities around the world. However there is recent data that shows that the capital may be recovering and London is expected to come back strongly. Job postings are down most in the South East while the North East is closest to it’s pre-pandemic figures 

What does this mean for your job search?  

If you find that there are few positions available in your preferred career pathway, or location make sure to be flexible in your career planning. How or where else can you use the skills that you have acquired from your degree, work or voluntary experiences these last few years? In addition, are you widening your horizons about what jobs and sectors are available to you with your degree? As we’ll see in the next section, some level of remote working is likely here to stay which may mean you can consider a wider location range as you may not need to commute every day 

Remote working isn’t going away 

Currently 37% of the workforce is working from home. However, if you break that down into sector then almost all of sectors like IT and professional and technical services are at home. There is a strong consensus that it is here to stay with many businesses now thinking about permanent changes to working patterns. Companies are planning to reduce office spaces by 30% on average. There is also appetite from the workforce for this too, with many workers reporting they would not want to go back to the office full-time.  

This change to virtual working means that some skills will take on a new value to employers. Skills such as remote collaboration, time management and online communication, and an understanding of how virtual communication platforms work, will be vital. Depending on how the roadmap pans out, you may end up starting a job virtually full-time or when things return to normal, you might not be working at your workplace five days a week.  

Whether you are currently studying or on placement, you have probably acquired some of the skills that will be needed for this new environment. Start thinking about how you can give evidence of them in applications and interviews. Employer's attitudes to virtual working might also be something you want to research. Some companies have already made their stance on the subject clear, which might help inform whether they sound like somewhere you want to work.  

We have some blogs that cover this topic in more detail: 

Looking ahead 

Even though business confidence is currently low, there is a hope that there will be a marked improvement and a late recruitment boost in late Spring/Summer. You should be aware that this year may not follow the normal recruitment timelineIf you haven’t found a position for after university yet, don’t panic! There are jobs still being advertised and it is likely things will continue to improve, possibly quite dramatically, over the coming months.  

We hope that with the end of lockdown and new government roadmap, business confidence will gradually come back and with that, an improvement in the number of vacancies available in a wide variety of sectors.  

Final thought 

We hope you found this update useful. As with all of these updates, it is worth emphasising that the graduate labour market is slightly different to the wider job market. While things are certainly not at their pre-pandemic levels, generally graduate employment has not been as dramatically impacted as non-graduate employment. There are still plenty of opportunities out there but you may need to be a bit more flexible when considering your options.  

If you need further support – we are here to help you at every stage of your career journey. Find resources, events, appointments and much more on MyFuture. 

Source for labour market data and trends: Prospects Luminate
This blog was written collaboratively by Aste Dahl and Rebecca Wray

Posted in: Graduate Jobs, Labour Market Intelligence


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