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Jobs Outlook Report – March 2021

The latest REC Report on Jobs launches us into a very positive mood with the headline ‘Roadmap for lifting lockdown leads to substantial increase in hiring activity in March’.



As soon as you dive into the data, you become aware that this isn’t hyperbole, but in fact, the recovery is immense and there are fantastic signs that, despite still being in some degree of lockdown, the UK economy and jobs market is showing very clear signs of bouncing back. I have been saying this will happen for the last few months now and the data doesn't lie, we can start to feel more securely confident.


There are some incredible facts outlined by the most recent data:

  • The number of people being placed in permanent new jobs is finally improving, and improving “sharply”.

  • The number of people acquiring temporary positions is also rapidly increasing, to the degree that there is now a more subdued candidate supply than we’ve seen for a long while.

  • Overall, vacancies have expanded at the fastest pace since August 2018 (well before the pandemic) and indeed the highest rise in permanent placements for 6 years.

  • We’re even seeing some increases in starting salaries for both permanent and temporary roles, indicating that more of a balance is being restored between candidate and employer.

Recovery despite lockdown

What’s truly amazing about the latest data is that this indicates recovery was underway even when we were still very much fully in lockdown.


The anticipation provided by the government’s roadmap fuelled sufficient confidence to propel the bounce back, despite the continuing restrictions.


In real terms, of course vacancies are still lower than pre-pandemic times, being 26.8% lower than a year previously. However, this needs to be seen within context that at one point we were 58.7% down from the previous year!


Additionally, the latest data shows that recovery is happening reasonably evenly across the board. The REC monitors 10 different job categories, or sectors. There has been expansion in all of them except retail, which we can expect to improve soon.


That said; it is in the private sector where the sharpest improvements are being seen.


Within the public sector there is solid growth, but it isn’t quite as intense.


Driving these improvements is the rise in employer hiring confidence which has been evident since the clear success of the vaccine rollout, as well as the announcement of the government’s plans for exiting lockdown and moving forwards.


Recruitment will need a dedicated approach

As a result of the excellent news, it’s no surprise that hidden within the data there are some arising skills shortages which may challenge employers as they look to build back.


Whilst some of these shortages are in areas we would expect, notably IT and communications, some are less expected.


Employers will need robust recruitment strategies to ensure they succeed in identifying and securing the best candidates.


All in all though, it would appear that the UK, and its jobs market, has more than proven itself to be resilient. We have definitely weathered the most recent lockdown storm better than many had anticipated.


Recruitment experts now need to support employers and candidates as they find a surer footing, utilising both permanent and temporary positions to meet the needs of both parties. And here's to both employers and candidates starting to feel more confident about future prospects.



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