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KPMG/REC Jobs Outlook Report – August 2020

A tale of true Northern resilience is the core feature of the most recent KPMG and REC Jobs Outlook Report.


Whilst there are challenging times ahead across the country in the jobs marketplace, there are signs of positive movement. The North has been struck by more localised lock-downs than anywhere else, and we believe that this could lie behind some of the differences experienced in the North compared to other regions.


Key findings:

  • Employers are hiring and getting their recruitment projects back on track, mostly using temporary staff.

  • There are still fewer permanent roles available than usual, especially in the North. However, this decline in numbers is ‘softer’ than in the previous months.

  • There is increasing demand for temporary workers and this is really quite marked in the North of England, with the rate of growth at its fastest since Sept 2019, well before the pandemic.

  • There are, unsurprisingly, a huge number of people looking for work, and this is particularly notable in our region which has already seen large numbers of redundancies.

  • Looking at the Jobs Recovery Tracker, we can see a healthy upswing in new jobs being advertised. We’re not back at pre-Covid levels, but we’re heading in the right direction.

There’s hope in a challenging environment


This time was always going to be interesting for the jobs marketplace. We’re a long way forward from where we were in March, but we’re also now into the long-haul of the Covid-19 effects on jobs. As the furlough scheme is gradually being wound down, and more and more businesses are bringing employees back onsite or making difficult restructuring decisions, as well as an increasing number of local lock-downs in the North, it’s a difficult set of data to truly interpret. There’s a lot of change underway!


However, what is abundantly clear is the hope and gradual shift towards a more active jobs marketplace once again. As Euan West, office senior partner for KPMG in Leeds commented on the Northern region report: “Within a relatively downbeat jobs picture the uptick in demand for temporary staff could mark a turning point, with businesses becoming more willing and able to hire, at least on a flexible basis.”


Comparing the North to the rest of the UK


Interestingly, the North does stand out on its own in some respects at the moment.

There still remain some key skills shortages in the North of England. These are mostly in call centre roles, accounting and financial sectors and across several IT niches. This is good news for candidates in these areas, who should feel confident about securing a new role.


The biggest difference between the North and the rest of the country is that, unlike the rest of the UK, we aren’t seeing the same increase in permanent roles that everyone else is. However, there’s no room for panic here. When we look at the reasoning, it makes sense, and we can expect that to change in the coming months. And we’re certainly not doing badly in the temporary department.


The North is the most affected area in terms of local lock-downs. It makes sense that hiring managers are more in line with where other regions were a month or two ago, when they too were in lock-down. As the North gets in control of its local outbreaks, we would expect that the region will then see the same increase in permanent roles.


Getting ready for autumn


As we head into autumn, both employers and candidates need to be ready to move with the changing picture. The end of the furlough scheme, and any potential changes to short-term help for businesses and individuals, will have an impact on the jobs market.


However, businesses are finding their feet with a new normal and they need to be helped and encouraged in this.


We are here to help support both businesses and candidates as we move forwards.


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