The Hiring Market During Coronavirus: APSCo’s research

The professional recruitment sector has been badly impacted by Covid-19, and APSCo has taken every step possible to engage closely with its members, conduct research to understand the situation on the ground, and engage the Government to raise awareness of the condition of the hiring market. Currently, our research is showing us a picture of a market that, while severely impacted across the board by Covid-19, is still seeing activity in a number of sectors, most notably IT, HR, healthcare and logistics.

The hiring market – down but not out. As part of our continued monitoring of the professional recruitment sector, we released March data in partnership with cube19 that showed that permanent roles were down by half, contract roles down 40%, and interviews down by 50% when compared with the last week of March in 2019.

However, there were pockets of sectoral hiring activity, with job interviews and offers still taking place across a number of industries – primarily technology – but also life sciences, healthcare, logistics, finance, HR and digital marketing.

London: Tech roles dominate hiring. In fact, this continuation in IT hiring was echoed in recent London data that we published with Vacancysoft which showed that demand for these roles was dominating hiring in the capital as firms continue operations remotely during the pandemic.

The data shows IT roles accounted for 35% of all vacancies over the period since the shutdown. On a normal given week this figure would be 15% at most. The data also revealed that the top five in demand roles across the capital are technology related, with software engineering roles coming out on top.

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However, IT was not the only sector where operations were continuing despite Covid-19, and the data also revealed that businesses in London are looking for employee engagement specialists as firms seek to maintain cohesiveness while working from home. The figures revealed that HR vacancies made up 5.2% of all hiring in London.

Midlands: Vacancies fall, but IT continues hiring. This situation was also reflected across the midlands, with data published by APSCo and Vacancysoft showing that despite a 40% drop in overall job vacancies since this time last year, IT hiring is continuing in Birmingham, and remains the largest area of recruitment.

The data did also reveal large falls in other sectors, such as consulting and sales. For example, at the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms, first-quarter activity is down by 51% on average. Across sales-specific roles in the region, volumes are down a massive 65% as businesses focus all their energies on survival.

In Nottingham, there was a similar picture, with a 33% drop in job vacancies since this time last year, with retail vacancies falling the furthest, at 37%. Technology was the least affected by Covid-19, with volumes down just 13.4% and making up 45% of all professional roles created in Q1.

Similarly, digital marketing roles have not suffered as badly, falling only 16%. This is perhaps due to the fact that so many businesses are needing to ramp up their communications activities during the crisis.

Leicester followed the same trend, with a 20% drop in vacancies. However, the city continued to be a leading recruiter in the supply chain and logistics sector. Currently, it is the only major metropolitan area where logistics and supply chain professionals are a top-five area of recruitment.

Representing the sector

While the hiring market has inevitably been impacted by the coronavirus and some sectors have seen a near complete hiring standstill, we hope that there are aspects of our recent research that will give solace to recruiters, with several sectors continuing to hire even during the peak of the pandemic. As we progress through what is expected to be the worst of the current outbreak – we will continue our in-depth industry research on behalf of our members, and take every step to mitigate the damage of Covid-19 on the professional staffing sector.

Ann Swain

Ann Swain
Ann Swain is global CEO of APSCo, an international trade body representing the professional recruitment sector in the UK, Germany, Singapore and Australia.

Ann Swain

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