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Jobs Outlook Report: December 2020

The UK’s job market is fundamentally resilient and the latest KPMG/REC Report on Jobs simply confirms that. As Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC stated:


“The underlying strength of the British economy shone through in the December jobs figures. The biggest expansion in temporary recruitment since October 2018 shows how important the flexible jobs market is to that performance.

Growing permanent placements and starting pay also emphasised the resilience of our economy.”

It’s a fundamentally positive report with positive data and patterns:


  • Overall demand for new starters rose for the first time in 3 months

  • Permanent jobs increased for the first time since September 2020

  • Temporary jobs increased at the fastest rate yet since October 2018

  • Slight improvements in starting pay have been recorded

  • The number of available candidates is still growing, but at the slowest rate since April 2020


The story behind the data

The report reveals that recruiters are seeing much more confidence in the economy. There are two core reasons for this.


Firstly is the rolling out of the two vaccines in the UK. The UK is leading the way globally in terms of vaccine rollout. Even with the concerns about the new virus strain and the latest lockdown, this has shown us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we can possibly even see it.


The second is, at last, a way forward with Brexit in the form of a finally agreed deal. Whether you’re in the ‘remain’ or ‘leave’ camp, the deal signifies a more certain path for the immediate months to come, and the future as a whole. Businesses like certainty, and so this final end to the wrangling over what was going to happen, at least puts certainty in place.


Is the good news here to stay?

You can be forgiven for thinking that the December Report on Jobs is a snapshot in time which doesn’t allow for the inevitable downturn caused by the new lockdown. However, if you sneak a look at the Jobs Recovery Tracker, you can see that, actually, things remain pretty optimistic. Indeed, the North West is really shining a beacon for how recovery looks. London is struggling a bit, but progress is still definitely happening everywhere.


It’s not that 2020 wasn’t a challenging year – it was. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the total number of job vacancies were down -31.5% on an annual basis in the 3 months before November.


What’s important is that recovery looks set to be smoother and more robust than we previously expected.


A tough year with a brighter future

Now we need to look forward, despite the current lockdown. Roles in IT & Computing, Healthcare, Accounting and Engineering are all seeing greater demand and recruiters are stepping up to fill these vacancies.


We need to realise and accept that 2020 was a year like no other but that we are in a strong position moving forwards. Recovery will take place at different rates at different times based on the impact on various sectors, as well as the times when news is good and when it’s more challenging. Expect early 2021 to see more use of temporary workers throughout the uncertainty of the latest lockdown, but also expect hiring managers to restart their plans with renewed confidence as the vaccine rollout continues.


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